No progress reported in Barrington District 220 contract impasse
Brian Battle, president of the Barrington 220 School Board. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun Times Media
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:08AM
BARRINGTON — Officials from Barrington District 220 and the local teachers union have not met to negotiate since the two sides announced a contract impasse last week.
On Oct. 31, district administration announced that members of the Barrington Education Association had authorized a possible strike. Teachers have been working under the terms of an expired contract since August.
The School Board’s statement last week explained that the district is participating in ongoing deliberations and are focused on balancing the budget in the face of economic uncertainties.
On Monday, district officials told the Barrington Courier-Review that no progress was made between Oct. 31 and Nov. 5, but that the two sides plan to renew talks in the near future.
“It’s a difficult economic environment,” School Board president Brian Battle said. “We know that the last few years have been difficult and future years remain uncertain.”
The Board said the preliminary message from the teachers unit does not mean Barrington families should immediately begin anticipating a strike.
“It simply means the Board of Education and the BEA have more work to do within the open-minded and practical approach we have taken from the start,” according to the statement from the School Board.
“We know this was a difficult and emotional decision for our teachers given the constructive and collaborative contract negotiations of the past eight months,” the School Board statement reads. “The Board of Education remains optimistic an agreement is forthcoming to continue a standard of quality and fairness that satisfies our teachers as well as our taxpayers.”
The School Board also stated they remain optimistic that an agreement is forthcoming and additional time and flexibility may be required.
Battle reported that negotiations have focussed on adjustments to salary, insurance and benefits.
“I think the Board feels very optimistic that we will settle on an agreement very soon,” said Battle, reiterating that a strike is not imminent and the negotiation continues.
The teachers association statement reported that an overwhelming number of its members voted to authorize a strike if a settlement is not reached in a timely manner.
“Our argument is for quality and fairness,” said BEA president Melanie Collins. “We want to maintain the kind of quality school district that attracts and retains great teachers to serve the students— the kind of quality professionals that have made this a great school system.”
The Board said its interest lies in the students, teachers and taxpayers in the district.
“We know this was a difficult and emotional decision for our teachers given the constructive and collaborative contract negotiations of the past eight months,” the statement reads. “The Board of Education remains optimistic an agreement is forthcoming to continue a standard of quality and fairness that satisfies our teachers as well as our taxpayers.”
Collins said the teachers’ negotiating team has scheduled several meetings with the Board in November and will continue to press for progress in the negotiations.