The recent discussions in the District 96 board meetings about the implementation of professional development have brought up the issue of the new collective bargaining agreement. 

As we head into negotiations between the board and the REC, I am concerned about which members of the board will be chosen to represent us. Through conversations I have had with both board members and taxpayers, I have concluded that there are members of the board of education that are unable to negotiate in good conscience given their bias and personal feelings about teachers. 

There are also board members that lack enough experience on the board to represent us well in the negotiations. This is a critical crossroads for our district, and I am asking the board to make sure that the members they choose to negotiate are experienced, open-minded and creative. 

We have already heard from the REC at the June 17 board meeting that they are ready to negotiate in good faith. The board must choose representatives of whom they can honestly say the same. 

Members of the board have not been shy to show where their bias lies and the board should, in turn, not send those members to negotiate. Not only does this send a poor message to the REC, this also sends a clear message to the taxpayers that the board is more concerned with their own agendas than with the education of our children. 

The board needs to set aside their personal politics and show this district that they are capable of making good decisions on behalf of both the taxpayers and the students. We already know that we need better quality education in our district, and this can only be obtained by continued professional development for our teachers and the correct amount of time needed in the day to pass this knowledge along to our students. 

Rising test scores and increased student achievement will not be obtained by sending negotiators in to these meetings that plan to stick it to the teachers and the administration.

In order to obtain a fair and equitable contract, we need both sides to walk into these meetings both prepared and willing to negotiate. Most importantly, both sides need to send in negotiators that will be respectful to each other and listen to what the other has to say. I believe that the REC has done this already. Now it is the board’s turn to show the taxpayers that they also have the best interests of our children in mind when it comes to these negotiations.

The two members that are chosen to negotiate will send a strong message to the REC and the district about what the board wants from these negotiations. Will we send a message of contention and contempt or a message of respect and good faith?

Elizabeth Kos


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