The teachers and paraprofessionals in Riverside Elementary School District 96 are now without a contract, but negotiations are continuing and apparently making progress. Negotiations are set to resume in two weeks after nearly a month off. The existing contract between teachers and the school district expired on June 30.

“At this point the contract language has pretty much been tentatively agreed to and now the next two negotiating sessions are set for July 20 and 21,” said co-interim superintendent Patrick Patt who is participating in the negotiations and helping the school board negotiating team. “That’s when we get into the economic part.”

The economic part is wages and benefits. Cleaning up and clarifying contract language was a major goal for board negotiators.

The last two contracts for District 96 teachers tied teacher raises to the Consumer Price Index and that will likely be the pattern again this time.

Time for professional development for teachers is also an issue under discussion. The school board would like teachers to do their professional development at times beyond the regular school day. This would allow the district to get rid of the early student dismissal on Mondays that District 96 instituted last year to give teachers regular time for professional development. 

“We’re looking at other options and that’s part of our discussions with teachers now,” said co-interim superintendent Griff Powell.

While the parties hope to hammer out an agreement before school starts in August it would not be especially unusual for teachers to start the school year without a contract.

That has happened frequently in the past at District 96 and in many other school districts. District 96 teachers began the 2010-2011 school year without a contract before coming to terms on a new agreement in October.

In 2013 teachers at Riverside-Brookfield High School worked without a contract for nearly five months before a new contract was agreed to in December.

“Atmospherically I don’t see it as problem at this point,” Patt said.

New negotiating team member

Newly elected school board member Shari Klyber has been named to the school board’s negotiating team replacing Juliet Boyd who was defeated in her attempt to win a full term on the school board. Klyber edged Boyd by 24 votes in the April election for the final spot on the school board.

Klyber is a former teacher at Elmwood Park High School. She joins holdovers Rachel Marrello and Rich Regan on the board’s negotiating team.

“I am very honored to be part of the process,” she said. “I’m excited to be part of it.”

She hopes an agreement can be reached before school starts.

“I think that’s very important and I am very optimistic,” Klyber said.