Letter from Lake Forest Education Association to Parents on Contract Negotiations
Says Board of Education has made no substantive offer since September.
Here is a copy of a letter sent from the Lake Forest Education Association to parents of Lake Forest High School students on Nov 1.
Dear LFHS Community,
The Lake Forest Board of Education recently posted a cogent letter to the LFHS website regarding a current update of negotiations. We appreciate this letter. However, the Lake Forest Education Association would like to offer our perspective.
We recognize that our previous negotiations resulted in one of the most competitive teaching contracts in the state of Illinois. The LFEA worked very hard in past negotiations through the arduous collective bargaining process to earn the benefits afforded by our now expired contract. As a result of tireless work, we essentially “caught up” to commensurate districts in the last two (2) years of our previous contract. Our standing was finally equitable. We neither significantly exceeded any comparative district (Highland Park-Deerfield, New Trier, Stevenson, et al.), nor did we lag behind. For two years, we were “right in the pack.”
During the past four negotiations (spanning over a decade), we have never started an academic year with a settled contract. Unfortunately, previous negotiations have required visible appeals for community awareness in many forms and very long hours at the negotiating table to secure a competitive salary and benefits package. Sadly, our present negotiating cycle repeats this history. We find ourselves again into November without a contract. Surrounding districts, to which we are annually compared, settle with little or no impediment. Based on the fact that we had only recently gained parity, it is difficult to argue that our effort to secure a fair and equitable contract has been disproportionate to our continued success.
We recognize and fully acknowledge the tribulations and uncertainty of the current economic climate. Our “peer” districts have settled very competitive contracts accepting this fact. Amid record-breaking ACT scores posted by our school, our teachers have also experienced foreclosures, diminished income from unemployed spouses, and incurred increased healthcare costs, the long-term care of aging parents, childcare, and college tuition. In the last two years, our faculty has suffered from job loss or a reduction to part-time status. We, like every household, have had to enact our own austerity measures to make ends meet. We empathize with the Board’s priority of fiscal responsibility especially during these times.
However, the contract proposals put forward by the LFEA require no increased tax burden to the citizens of our district. The current proposal put forth by the Board of Education diminishes and reduces the salaries and benefits of a contract that took over a decade to finally represent the continued and persistent improvement of our faculty (the “competitive” package the Board cites in its October 26th letter). Our best performing LFHS faculty to date will earn less going forward than we do today under our expired contract.
The Board of Education has not made any substantive financial and benefit offer since September. Their current offer constitutes a diminution of salary, retirement, and insurance benefits. The current Board offer would once again put LFHS significantly behind these competing districts. Please ask them why this must be the case.
The LFEA is ready to get on with our vocation while maintaining the compensation that took over a decade to earn -- if only for the last two years. As we have in past negotiations, we ask for nothing more than the status quo—parity with comparable school districts.
In closing, our entire faculty realizes how fortunate we are to work in such a wonderful school in a community that places a premium on education. To prove our gratitude, we continue to come in early to work and leave late. We seek out professional development opportunities and earn advanced degrees at our own expense. We ensure students receive social-emotional support and services. We forge bonds that exist beyond the classroom and last beyond graduation. Each and every year we strive to show our appreciation of your continued support.
Please call your Board members. Ask them to make an offer that keeps LFHS on par with the schools we work hard to outperform.
As always, thank you for your support, time, and consideration.
The Lake Forest Education Association
Lake Forest Board of Education
Sharon Golan, President (847) 234-1414
Jim Carey, V.P. (847) 234-4917
Richard Block, Secretary (847) 615-9439
Todd Burgener (847) 482-0489
B. Monty Edson (847) 234-0408
John Scribner (847) 234-0086
Nicki Snoblin (847) 295-9059