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LFHS Teacher Talks: Perception of Resources Divides Sides

Teachers maintain the money is available to meet their request while the Board claims there is not enough. No one disputes educators’ value to community.

Varying interpretations of the resources available to the  has put the school on the brink of a strike by the Lake Forest Education Association teachers’ union.

As a result of the , both sides were required to disclose their final offers to each other for public viewing. Those documents are available for viewing on the Illinois Labor Relations Board website.

The parties continued to negotiate but after the most recent session failed to produce an agreement Thursday, the teachers issued a Notice of Intent to Strike setting the stage for a walk out at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 12.

The District indicated Friday it had a strike plan but Board President Sharon Golan was not ready to disclose details when questioned by Patch Sunday. Whether or not the students would be in school during a strike is an issue being considered.

“We do have a strike plan,” Golan said. “As part of our discussions we have discussed what is the safest place for the students to be.” More will be revealed in the days to come. Both sides have indicated a willingness to continue talking.

At this point, the teachers believe their demands can be met without a tax increase while the District maintains an average positive fund balance in excess of 40 percent through the life of the contract, according to union spokesperson Chuck Gress.

Part of the reason for Gress’s optimism is the fact approximately 25 per cent of the current teaching staff will retire within five years. Those educators are at the top end of the pay scale.

“The School Board will hire new teachers at the entry level,” Gress said. “They are much less expensive teachers.” The base salary for a starting teacher is approximately half the pay for an educator at the top of the scale, according to numbers provided by Gress.

Board Disagrees With Union Economic Analysis

Golan disagrees with the teachers’ economic analysis. She indicated the Board has set a goal of a 10 percent positive fund balance as it digs itself out of a hole created when it attempted to maintain the school’s quality in difficult times.

“We made a conscious decision to spend down our reserves in hopes of things getting better until we could get back on an even keel,” Golan said. “It did not have a negative impact on the children.”

A rebuilding of cash reserves is one of the reasons Golan believes the Board must be more frugal today. “We were coming off a rich contract that was well deserved,” she said. She thinks the teachers are just as deserving but the economic reality has changed.

Like Golan, Gress places the students’ education ahead of all else and wants to see Lake Forest High School maintain the standards that have made it one of the North Shore’s premier high schools. He believes salaries competitive with schools like New Trier, Highland Park, Deerfield, the Glenbrooks and Stevenson are essential.

“We need to attract and keep quality teachers at our school to educate our school to educate our students in the manner our parents want them educated,” Gress said. “The Board’s offer would make (Lake Forest) a tier two school.”

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Nanbrank August 29, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Dear LFHS English Department, Obviously, LP was not educated at LFHS. Seriously, one of you should edit her rant in red pen!
Local resident August 30, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Coming from a family of educators, I almost always side with teachers; HOWEVER, the greediness exhibited reeks of the highest level of entitlement. I support the board in holding to their offer and not one penny more! Something not often showcased is that the LFHS teachers actually teach 20% less time than their counterparts in other surrounding communities. If they taught 5 periods (instead of 4) - we could reduce the ever-growing class sizes or perhaps not have to backfill one of the retiring teachers. In addition to the 20% less teaching expectations, many pull in an additional $75-100 per hour (tax-free) in tutoring "side jobs". Anyone that has been at LFHS knows that by 3:15 - it is a ghost town- and many of the staff are tutoring off-site. Do the math - if they tutor just six additional hours a week, they still have shorter work day than the average American worker and will pocket anywhere from $450-600 (cash) additional earnings per week. ITheir employment at LFHS allows them access to students that need tutoring - and families that are willing to pay for it. Add in the very generous salary adjustments for clubs, coaching, etc and I have faith the teachers will realize their "grass" is already pretty darn green. And that doesn't include the generous vacation time off for Spring Break, Winter Break and Summer. I'm actually surprised that more teachers haven't rebelled against the Union Leadership - they are certainly not acting in their best interests.
Not buying it September 07, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Truly the teachers at Lake Forest are not as good as they think they are. My child has moved to another state to train for a sport and now attends a new high school. I have been swamped with emails from their staff. Emails from the school nurse, progress reports from teachers, daily happenings, information about parent nights. She is respected as an elite athlete, and does not have to take physical education. They might not have smart boards but the school has even adjusted her course schedule to suit her needs without any prompting, placing her in a different level class. I have had more positive conversations with the new school than all the years she attended LFHS. Surprisingly, her honors English class does not have a weekly "bring a book to read" friday, while the teacher leaves for most of the period. I have had some positive experiences at LFHS with my kids, but now that I have something to compare, they are not as good as they think they are. I also might mention her total book buy amount....zero...that's right. You don't buy books. What a concept at a public school.
s cee September 08, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Illinois is the teacher export state. If you check the state board of education there are many times more teachers than there are openings. Some times as much as 50 or more for every opening. Why not use some of these teachers, many who have advanced degrees who are willing to take less just to get into a job. Ronald Reagen did it with the airline strike and it changed history forever. There was never again an airline strike. It is time to break with tradition and mob run unions and run the school with principles of competition and free enterprise. This will insure the taxpayer gets the best teacher for their buck and their child the best education.
s cee September 08, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Guess where some of these go after work? They are teaching online classes and at the local; Jr. College and small college. That way they can get 2 pensions at taxpayer rexpense! Thats right they can retire and take a different job at a different district and be employed while earning a pension. Many have done this and it is on the taxpayer to spit up the money. Lets push to make it a law, public servants serve the public not the other way around.

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