The school district and Ottawa Township High School Education Association members have been in negotiations since May 2012 and the two parties have reached 39 tentative agreements. The teacher contract expired in August 2012.
However, both sides haven’t agreed on wages, employee insurance contribution levels, post-retirement health insurance benefits and potential employee contributions to the Teacher’s Retirement System.
At a Monday night school board meeting the board held a closed session to discuss the contract negotiations and to declare a board spokesperson for matters relating to the impasse, said OTHS superintendent Matt Winchester.
The statement released by the board states several key upcoming dates:
n July 19: The board and OTHSEA must submit their final contract offers to a federal mediator along with a cost summary of its terms. The offers may be identical to the last offers proposed in negotiations.
n July 26: If no resolution is reached by this date than the respective final offers become public.
n Aug. 9: On or after this date the board may choose to impose its last offer and/or OTHSEA may choose to strike.
Board members repeated several times in the statement that the declaration of impasse does not “preclude continued negotiations (or) require the board to impose its last offer or the OTHSEA to strike.”
Also offered in the statement is a summary of the school district’s troubled financial position.
Property values have decreased for the past three years and recent financial projections show they will continue to decrease for another three years. State and federal funding has been delayed, and in some cases, curtailed. All of this has caused the overall revenue in the education fund to be similar to 2007 levels and have a $3.1 million deficit.
The education fund is the account used to pay for teacher wages and benefits.
Kevin Caufield can be reached at (815) 220-6932 or firstname.lastname@example.org.