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A Message from the

DeKalb Board of Education


Summer is an important time for District CUSD 428 as we
prepare for next school year. A critical part of our
preparation is making smart choices for this coming year
and future years. Our goal during this process is to provide
the best education for our students. We want to give them
every opportunity to succeed.
At the same time, we appreciate that the taxpayers of District CUSD 428 have put their trust in
us to make the best use of the districts limited resources. We take this responsibility very
seriously. We have spent the past six months negotiating with the District 428 teachers union
on a new contract for the teachers. Disappointingly, after eight negotiating sessions and four
federal mediation sessions, the teachers union has made a deliberate decision to not yield in
their views that they deserve unreasonable raises, while simultaneously refusing to negotiate
the length of the school day for the benefit of our students. At the same time, they do not
dispute any of the facts that highlight the irrefutable conclusion that their proposals would
harm the District now and in the years to come.
It is time for our students, parents, and taxpayers to hear the facts.

The teachers union has stonewalled negotiations


for six months.
The district negotiating team has come prepared to the sessions with proposals and supporting
data since negotiations began in January. The teachers union has presented no data to
support their positions and has consistently used every delay tactic to draw out the
negotiations.
After eight sessions, with no movement made, we asked the union to consent to a mediation
process. We have met four times with a federal mediator skilled in assisting us to help resolve
our issues. The board wants an agreement, but we will not put the districts financial state in
jeopardy to get it.

The district has finite funding with a tax base that is


substantially lower than our teachers salaries.
The mean income of a four-person household in the City of DeKalb is $37,300 according to
latest estimates. The average individual salary of a District 428 teacher is over $71,600. Our
teachers work approximately 180 days per year versus the typical 260 days per year in most
workplaces. Our teachers want the community to fund their much higher salaries, gold-plated
healthcare, and favorable work schedule with little regard to the effect it will have on current
taxpayers and future taxes.

Our teachers are the highest paid in DeKalb County.


The teachers union is demanding unreasonable raises that are punitive for the district. They do
not even acknowledge that they are the highest paid in the county and among the highest paid
in the State. Their salaries at all levels range in the top five to 10 percent for all LUDA (large unit
district association) school districts in Illinois. LUDA in Illinois includes the largest 58 unit school
districts educating approximately half of the states student population.
Furthermore, the teachers salary schedule does not include the abundant opportunities for
stipend positions such as coaching to generate extra income. Additionally, any committee or
professional development time outside of the school day is paid on top of their salaries.
Quite simply, our compensation package at current levels will draw the best teachers in the
state, especially given the lower relative cost of living in our district. The teachers union needs
to recognize this fact and be more realistic in their demands.

Teachers have a gold-plated healthcare coverage with an


outsized portion of the premiums paid by the district.
The district pays 95 percent of all single premiums and 50 percent of all family premiums for
our teachers health care plans. Premiums are paid year round although teachers work nine
months of the year. This and other benefits make our district one of the most attractive places
to work in the state. But we must control this expense for the benefit of our students and the
future of our community.

Our District has the shortest school day of all surrounding


districts and one of the shortest school days in the state.
Teachers are refusing to extend our school day to conform to all other districts. Our districts
school day ranges from 15-30 minutes less per day than all other surrounding school districts.
During the course of a 180-day school year, that results in 45 to 90 hours less instruction time.
The additional school time would benefit our students with greater opportunities for in-class
instruction or one-on-one assistance with the teachers.
And unlike any other district, our teachers workday is the same duration as the school day.
This leads to students in many instances waiting to enter their first period classrooms. It also
restricts after-school help because the teachers can depart right at the closing bell.

Meeting our teachers demands would endanger the


districts financial future and could lead to tax increases.
The district cannot sustain further deficit spending. After years of running budget deficits, the
district has no choice but to balance its budget to safeguard our financial health and maintain
educational quality.
These negotiations could affect the districts bond rating. The rating is based on numerous
factors. Two of the most important factors that could force a downgrade are the financial
uncertainty currently in Springfield and further erosion of the districts fund reserves. The
board is trying to control what it can. The teachers demands would erode the districts
reserves. If this were to happen and a downgrade resulted, our taxpayers could owe an
additional $4.6 million in interest on the debt. Moreover, the district anticipates refinancing its
bonds in the coming year. Paying what our teachers are demanding could jeopardize that
effort.

Teachers must work with us to keep the district healthy for


years to come.
We are fortunate that the districts current financial condition is solid. However, we are
forecasting no growth in our income in the coming years. And even those predictions may be
adversely affected by actions in Springfield. The board has a responsibility to the community
and its taxpayers to make the best use of the districts limited resources. Our teachers are paid
fairly and we want that to continue. We witness firsthand their commitment to our students

each school day. But the past holds no answers. Preservation of DeKalbs excellence will take
progressive and deliberate action. Our teachers must be a part of that solution.

We look forward to welcoming our students back to school


on August 24.
Our goal is to reach an agreement before the school year starts. We will keep you informed of
any changes to the school calendar that may result from the teachers union inactions.