No Discussions Seen Thursday in Lake Forest Teacher Strike
Representatives of Board and union did not meet Wednesday and Board President Sharon Golan does not expect a session Thursday.
Representatives of the two sides in the Lake Forest High School teacher strike did not meet Wednesday, are not likely to talk today and both blame the other for the stalemate likely to keep students out of class another day.
“We did not meet Wednesday and I feel that we will not meet tomorrow,” Lake Forest High School Community School District 115 Board of Education President Sharon Golan said. Golan says the teachers will not meet and the educators claim the Board will not negotiate.
“We made them an offer and they didn’t offer us anything back,” Lake Forest Education Association teachers’ union (LFEA) spokesperson Chuck Gress said arguing the Board is trying to force the teachers to negotiate against themselves.
Gress explained the union received a written offer Tuesday afternoon, responded to the District with a proposal in writing and has yet to receive a response. His group is unwilling to resume negotiations without a reply.
Golan does not dispute Gress’s version of the facts when it comes to written offers, but is firm in her belief the Board is negotiating in good faith and did not ignore the teachers’ proposal. She believes the District acted.
“We did not receive a written proposal from the Union last night,” Golan said. “The supposal (an oral offer) we received we responded to. We rejected it.” The Board also said on the school’s website it was open to meeting but the LFEA will not.
Gress rejects the statement his group is unwilling to negotiate. He indicated union representatives waited for an hour Tuesday hoping the Board would respond to the union’s suggestions but the federal mediator reported the District would not respond.
“As of Wednesday, the last offer was made by the LFEA,” Gress said. “Since the mediator ended negotiations last night (Tuesday), the LFEA has not been contacted by the BOE. The LFEA has never said that it would not meet with the BOE and is still awaiting a response to our financial proposal.”
The two sides have also issued different reports and statement demonstrating the financial health of the District. At Tuesday’s Board meeting, the proposed budget for the coming school year indicated the District could barely afford to pay the teachers its proposed 2.7 percent increase.
“You cannot dispute those numbers,” Golan said. “It would be helpful if we could start with the same set of numbers.” When Deputy Superintendent for Finance and Operations Allen Albus introduced the proposed budget Tuesday, he did not indicate whether he used the Board’s proposal or the suggestion of the LFEA to craft the project.
“Our assumptions are built on current market conditions,” Albus said but did not define the market. “If we have to amend it we will do that.”
Meanwhile, the school will be open for students today but there will be no instruction. College visits and the college application process will continue uninterrupted. A complete strike plan is contained on the District website.