HINSDALE – As contract negotiations continue between the District 86 Board of Education and the Hinsdale High School Teachers Association, so does a war of words between both sides as the June 30 strike deadline looms.
At the June 2 Board of Education meeting, school board President Richard Skoda said the board intends to be available throughout the summer in order to expedite the process.
But teacher's union spokesman Mike Palmquist said in an email that the actions of the board to date "do not support this statement" and called Skoda's comments "divisive and misleading."
"The new board majority delayed meetings, cancelled meetings and presented incomplete proposals on several occasions," Palmquist said in the email.
Palmquist said the afternoon session for the second mediation meeting scheduled June 10 was cancelled by the board.
At the Board of Education meeting Monday, Skoda said on May 27 the board went from their offer of a flat freeze to offer a consumer price index, which would add a 1.7 percent salary increase and performance pay. The mediator then informed the board they were hopeful for a counter from the teachers association on June 10, Skoda said.
On the morning of June 10, the mediator informed Skoda there was no offer from the association. About 90 minutes later, the association countered, decreasing their March offer of 5.41 to 5.29 percent, according to Skoda.
Skoda said at that point "there was no reason" for either the teachers or the board to continue negotiations June 10.
"Quite honestly, with the board moving 1.7 percent, we were hopeful that we would get the teachers to move, that did not happen," he said
The teachers have voted to strike if a new contract isn't approved by June 30.
According to a media statement sent from Skoda before the board meeting Monday, the teacher's union also published a flier that criticizes the board majority, which references the board passing a zero-levy, settling a lawsuit with former board member Dianne Barrett and eliminating permanent substitutes.
"The inaccurate information in this flier, as with other recent disinformation, is designed to advance union efforts to seize back control of the board in the April 2015 elections," Skoda said in the statement. "Not one element of their flier supports their proposal for increased salaries and contract bargaining positions. Anyone reading the union flier will quickly note that each point is an argument to deter implementing the new level of accountability at District 86."
Earlier this month, each side sent out media statements as well after the strike vote in which Skoda called the vote "surprisingly premature." In a release sent from Palmquist, he said the teachers' association "could not disagree more," stating the association requested negotiations to begin in September 2013.
"After the board delayed the initial meeting for several months, it then cancelled several negotiations meetings, one at the last minute without explanation," stated the release from the teachers' association. "To call the vote premature is disingenuous."
Both sides, however, have reiterated the desire to reach an agreement before the June 30 deadline.
"The board remains committed to seeking a fair, multi-year contract for teachers and taxpayers, which is sustainable within the framework of individual CPI increases and places education of the students first and foremost," Skoda said in the release.
Palmquist said in an email that the teachers "look forward" to the next mediation session, scheduled for June 26.
"We are making every effort to ensure that contract negotiations can be settled quickly and fairly to both sides," he said.