Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board President Candance Chow is “optimistic” that contract negotiations with the teachers union will reach a conclusion satisfactory to both sides and that a federal mediator will be unnecessary.
Her comments came in response to a request from Evanston Now for reaction to a story posted yesterday that expressed concern on the part of Paula Zelinski, president of the District 65 Educators’ Council, on the pace of the negotiations to replace a four-year contract with the teachers that expires this summer.
“Superintendent (Paul) Goren and board members have been actively involved since the start of the bargaining process,” Chow said, and she added that board members have been receiving weekly updates from Goren “in addition to having regular discussions of negotiations’ progress in executive sessions.”
Chow said it is common practice for the board and superintendent to appoint and work alongside bargaining team members during the negotiations process.
“Dr. Goren joined the negotiations table in June,” she added, “as the conversation shifted to economic issues. He continues to spearhead all planning efforts and will continue to sit directly at the negotiations table until an agreement is reached.”
Chow cautioned that the board and administration are facing what she calls “a grim financial outlook,” with a potential deficit that will start at $4.5 million in the 2017-2018 school year.
“The financial challenges must be taken into strong consideration,” she said, “as the district negotiates contracts with each of its collective bargaining units.”
Nevertheless, Chow said that “we remain optimistic that both sides will move closer to reaching an agreement.”