Teachers returned to their classrooms at Riverside-Brookfield High School this week without a contract. The teachers’ three-year deal expired on June 30. Negotiations for a new contract are continuing and apparently making progress.
“All sides are at the table talking and I think things are moving well,” said District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis.
Two bargaining sessions are coming up; one will take place next week and another session is scheduled for the week of Aug. 22, Skinkis said. The teachers’ union and the school board representatives have already met for one bargaining session this month.
School board members Matt Sinde and Garry Gryczan along with Skinkis and attorney Lynn Himes make up the school board’s negotiating team. Gryczan was out of the country for a good part of the summer, which has slowed negotiations.
Sinde declined to comment when asked about the negotiations last week, and Gryczan did not return a telephone call from the Landmark asking if he would like to comment about the negotiations.
It is not unusual for teachers to begin a school year without a contract. In the last negotiations for a new contract with RBHS teachers, an agreement was not hammered out until December, almost six months after the previous contract had expired.
Teachers will work under the terms of the old contract until a new agreement is agreed to and approved. Any changes in pay are expected to be applied retroactively to the start of the school year.
Under the three-year contract that expired in June, teachers received step increases, but no increase in base pay in the first year of the contract, a hard freeze of no increase in base pay and no step increases the second year, and a 1.275 percent increase in base pay and step increases in the third year.
RBHS administrators have used a 2-percent increase in pay as a placeholder for this year in budget documents.
— Bob Skolnik