ISBE won’t count Lake Forest strike days
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Should District 115 teachers have gone on strike?
Updated: September 25, 2012 2:04PM
LAKE FOREST — The Illinois State Board of Education is not accepting the two strike days during which Lake Forest High School held classes as legal school days.
State Superintendent Chris Koch ruled that the programming did not meet “minimum standards” for all grade levels, ISBE spokeswoman Mary Fergus said.
How those two days will be made up is under discussion by District 115.
“That’s something that’s determined at a local level,” Fergus said.
By law, school must be in session 180 calendar days.
LFHS held classes on Sept. 17 and 18 during the teachers strike and offered alternative programming. Some 1,400 students of the district’s 1,718 attended school on those days.
According to Illinois administrative code, a school day must include language arts, science, math and history for all grade levels for it to be counted as a legal school day.
The district did meet two of three conditions for a legal school day, Fergus said. Those conditions were that at least 50 percent of the district’s students attended and the teachers hold certificates that are registered with the regional superintendent.
The alternate programming was led by administrators and substitutes.
The LFHS teachers strike started Sept. 19 and ended Sept. 26.
The terms of the Lake Forest High School teachers contract likely won’t be made public until the next Board of Education meeting, scheduled for Oct. 9.
“We anticipate the board will be reviewing it then,” District 115 spokeswoman Anne Whipple said. “At that meeting, the terms of the agreement would be made public.”
The Lake Forest Education Association members heard the highlights of the four-year contract after school Thursday from their negotiating team, LFEA spokesman Chuck Gress said.
“It is a very fair agreement and compromise on both sides,” Gress said.
He would not give details of the contract that negotiators hammered out in a 12-hour session that ended about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday to put an end to the five-day-old teachers strike, the first in district history.
The school board’s attorney will finalize the draft of the language, which the union’s negotiating team will review before presenting it to the teachers, he said.
“Then it’s given to the membership for a five-day period of review,” prior to a vote, Gress said.
From start to finish, Gress said the process will take roughly two weeks.
“That’s not unusual,” he said.
The 150 teachers represented by the union need to ratify the contract before the school board reviews it.
Gress said he has “every reason to believe it will be ratified.”
The teachers’ return to the classroom Wednesday morning ended a long stalemate between the school board and LFEA that began months ago.
The last contract expired June 30. It was a one-year contract in which teacher pay was frozen. The nearly 12-hour negotiation session that began at 3 p.m. Sept. 18 followed a 14-hour negotiation session Sept. 17.
The LFEA was requesting raises between 5.6 percent and 6.5 percent over a three-year contract. The school board was offering 2.6 percent and 3.4 percent salary increases. A two-tier salary schedule — one for current employees and another for future employees — the school board proposed and teachers opposed was withdrawn earlier in the negotiations.
The starting salary for teachers with a bachelor’s degree is $50,116 and $56,007 for teachers with a master’s degree. At the top of the scale, a teacher with a doctorate and 25 years of experience receives an annual salary of $127,649.
The current average salary for a teacher at LFHS is more than $100,000. LFEA Spokesman Chuck Gress has said the average is inflated because 25 percent of the teachers will retire in the next four years and are at top of scale.