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Lake Forest High School Teacher Contract Negotiations Require Mediator Intervention

Salaries, benefits and professional development are sticking points in ongoing negotiations.

As a sign of solidarity last week, teachers came to class reportedly wearing matching T-shirts amid an expired, five-year contract and negotiations for a new one on the table.

“It’s union stuff,” said District 115 Board of Education President Sharon Golan. “School went on, teaching went on. There was no disruption.”

In a recent email sent from the board of education to parents of students and posted on its website, the board acknowledged a mediator has been brought into the negotiations, which have been going on since April with a reprieve over the summer, Golan said.

The mediator was brought in at the request of the teacher’s union after talks broke down over three main areas: salary, benefits, and professional development. The board and teachers union did reach tentative agreement on more than 20 different concerns from teachers, according to the email. 

“It’s a good thing,” Golan said of including a mediator. “These are some really great, intelligent people, and we’ll just continue to work together.”

The teachers’ contract expired June 30. In a May article by the Chicago Sun-Times, ranked second in Lake County for a teacher with a doctorate degree and just over 13 years of experience to earn a maximum of $101,648.28 annually. District 113, which includes Deerfield and Highland Park high schools, was ranked first with a contract that paid teachers with about the same years of experience $104,737.21 annually.

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Conversely, an elementary teacher at earns $63,949.62 with 11 years’ of experience. In , it’s $66,339.93 for 12 years’ experience. District 65 also is in contract negotiations.

Golan agreed the economic backdrop for the negotiations is different from when the last contract was negotiated in 2006.

“It was, really, a very different world prior to 2008,” she stressed. “We negotiated (then) a contract that was competitive with the other high-ranking school districts.”

“During the last contract negotiations, we looked at what everybody around us was getting paid,” Golan continued. “We wanted to make sure we were competitive — that we could hire new talent and retain it.”

The caliber of education, Golan stressed, is what sets the district apart from others. Moreover, it’s what helped post a composite ACT score of 26.8, nearly six points higher than the state average, for the 2010-11 school year.

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“I think the current administration, the teachers, the really good parents” have strengthened education in the district, she said. “I would definitely put it to teamwork.”

Representatives from the district’s teachers union could not be reached for comment.

It is too early to tell whether there are grounds for speculation that teachers will picket along the front lawn of the 75-year-old high school, Golan said.

“I think anytime people hear the words ‘union’ and ‘negotiations,’ they jump to that word (strike), but it’s not expected at this point,” Golan said.

The goal is to draft a new contract sooner rather than later.

“From my vantage point, things are going along in a positive direction,” she added. “As I said, we’re continuing to work. We’ve got two more meetings on the calendar.”

Ken james November 03, 2011 at 12:40 AM
In today's economic climate, recognizing the budget constraints placed on a community even like LF, and the leading edge compensation structure that LF teachers now enjoy, it is time for a major reality check.LF teachers should be overjoyed at the job and pay that they currently enjoy. If you advertised for replacements, how many thousands of applications do you think you would get? Ken James
Jim Powers November 03, 2011 at 02:13 AM
Which makes you wonder why they have chosen to take this public with pickets tomorrow and Friday?
Jeffrey Chicoine November 03, 2011 at 02:50 AM
$100,000+ for nine months work! Unbelievable. I agree with Ken in that they should be "overjoyed" with the job to say nothing of the pay.
Adam I. Johnson November 03, 2011 at 01:46 PM
Wealthy people suggesting that middle-class people be content with less -- are these stuff shirts still singing that song? Nine months of work, really? Anyone who makes such an insipid broadside has never spent even five minutes in a classroom, let alone tried to comprehend the long hours spent preparing lessons, grading, acquiring resources, etc. The villanization of teachers is, appropriately, vile. What an easy target. But the swells of Lake Forest see teachers not as professionals, but as members of their "servant class" like dogwalkers or housecleaners. If they don't like the pay, leave and the Von Monocle's will find another teacher to take their place, and at lower pay. Really? What are you going to do, drive your pickup truck to the library and hope a few people with MAs and MSs jump in, eager to teach for day wages? Stop whining. Pay teachers what they're worth. They are as professional, hard working, tireless and committed as any self-important executive or entrepreneur. Actually, probably moreso.
Steve Van Nuys November 03, 2011 at 04:21 PM
There a few misconception that are disturbing here. 1) The majority of the teachers at LFHS make 100,000..it just not the case..re-read the article get the facts..teachers with 20 plus years and multiple masters degress are in that range..the vast majority or not. 2) That teachers only work 9 months a year..if you believe that, you have major incorrect understanding of this profession 3) That there is something wrong with with having high paid teachers..especially in a community that has always prided itself in having the best community servcies and parks..why not teachers..why shouldn't this be a source of pride rather than a source of resentment. That is if you truly value teachers and education. 4) That continually forcing teachers to fight for competive salaries will eventaully effect the school..causing the BEST teachers coming out of school to second guess about coming to LFHS and instead go to Deerfield, New Trier, Stevenson..etc. I know because I have seen it happen. The anger and resentment towards the teaching profession is sad and disburbing to me and I hope it does not reflect the majority of this community
Dennis Meulemans November 07, 2011 at 10:35 PM
I have had two daughters graduate from Lake Forest High School. They each had great teachers and some not so great. Unfortunately the great ones were for the most part not tenured and ended up leaving. Those that were not so great happened to have long tenure, and many continue to be less than what we should all expect / demand from our tax dollars. Teachers are professionals, they demand to be treated as such, and I am all for that. However, it is hard to treat them as professionals, when I see a general lack of accountability and clearly a lack of pay for performance, something that we all should be in favor of. There is something terribly wrong with a system that rewards mediocre results with a time and grade pay schedule, and a bloated pension plan to boot. The system does not allow or encourage positive turnover to eliminate poor performance and bring in the best teachers for our students. Why is it that additional teachers are vetoed by the Union to protect their current member’s salaries and planned increases? Budgets are tight, both in Lake Forest and elsewhere. The country is rebelling against bloated government spending. The demands of the union for constant increases in compensation are out of step with today’s reality. Let's start with a clean slate, and put tenure on the table. Give raises to the best, fire the worst. There are plenty of recent grads who would love to teach in Lake Forest. School Board. Dennis Meulemans

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