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.”

Related story:

No contract yet for D65 teachers

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Confusion

    I am a bit confused…I understand from a teaching friend that there have been no negotiations since May, so how can Goren have been at the table? Also, if the board is receiving weekly updates from Goren, how is he getting that information if he wasn't at the table? To me, the Board isn't getting first hand accounts and should really have a member there as in the past. I am very disappointed in the lack of leadership of the Goren team and the elected Board. 

    1. Teachers Contract

      I read the letter that was posted in Evanston Now by the District 65 Union President and everything that Chow said is contrary to what the letter related. I believe what the Union President wrote. Why is the District 65 Board Memeber Chow making it look like the Union President lied about the contract negotiations proceedings? The District Board Members are not showing the respect that Teachers are owed during this time. 

      1. District 65 negotiations with teachers

        As a resident of Evanston and a concerned parent, nothing is more important to me at this time than the best use of our resources for the education of ALL of our children. The Superintendant, the Board, and the Teachers need to negotiate in good faith to this end. No gamesmanship, No power plays. And certainly no dishonesty or lack of effort. I call on the press, the Mayor's office, all the alderpersons, and all community groups that care about children and the healthy growth of our town to focus on this activity, make known any unproductive behavior, and by the force of public concern, create an atmosphere that produces the best result possible for all the schools, kids, teachers, and administrators of District 65. Assume we are all watching, because we are.

        1. As part of the negotiations
          1. A continuing education [university not teacher college or department] requirement in the the subject they teach. Evaluation of competency every five years, e.g. exam in their field for the level of class they teach.
          2. Do away with end of service promotions and salary bumps.
          3. All pay increases/decreases based on merit not seniority or years of service, family size, etc..
          4. Increases take into account improvement in student success. E.g. increase in test scores, number of students able to advance to higher level classes [e.g. able to take a higher level math class than the ‘required’ class].
          5. Raises include reviews by students from different strata—i.e. from least to most successful students to reduce complaints based on students grades or feeling “teacher picks on me.”

      2. The team isn’t the problem

        Kudos to both DEC president Paula Zelinski and District 65 board president Candance Chow for letting the community know a little bit about the process and status of contract negotiations.

        Pinning the blame for lack of more progress to date on the superintendent and board members not sitting at the negotiating table may be misplaced, though. While that common practice held under the previous District 65 administration of Hardy Murphy, other districts have reached agreements with their teacher's unions with differently composed teams. New Trier High School District 203 had a team led by a non-president board member but no superintendent and signed a three-year contract on June 6, 2016. Palatine Township Elementary District 15 had the superintendent on the team but no board members and signed a 10-year contract in April 2016. Our own ETHS District 202 had a team without either superintendent or any board members and signed a one-year extension of its prior contract on June 1, 2016. Clearly the team is not the only issue in District 65.

        This week's statements indicate the district and the union have moved into negotiating by dueling press releases, a reflection of tension between the sides that likely predates the appointment of negotiating teams. Such tension is not inevitable, however. In March 2016, the teachers' union in Roselle Elementary District 12 offered a one-year contract extension with a freeze on cost of living increases in a joint effort with the board to support a tax referendum, which was later approved by voters. Teachers in East Aurora Unit District 131 started the last school year without a contract to no alarm by either side as negotiations continued into the fall. School Board President Annette Johnson was quoted as unworried about starting the year without a teachers' contract in place: "We have a good relationship with our union," she said. "They always try to do right by the district, and we're really trying to do right by them."

        It might help if both sides of the District 65 negotiations focused more on a collaborative and transparent approach and less on blaming one another for lack of progress. Hopefully, next week's scheduled bargaining sessions will be productive.

        1. Might be the team
          I disagree…I think it has been who has or hasn’t been at the table. In D202, the HR person at the table has the ability to make those decisions as a Board member or Goren for D65. If the person is sitting at the table to give the “Yep, we can do that.” the process can move on to another item. But, when there isn’t anyone there to say yay or nay…it takes longer, you have to go back, see what they say, come back maybe with a counter and therefore drawing out the process. Also, D202 is different than D65, it is one school all housed under one building and all on the same schedule. A little different in D65. Also, having a board member and the supt at the table didn’t start with Murphy, it has always been that way. I think a bit of the confusion and maybe lack of urgency on admin’s part is maybe because nobody in the top admin has ever been a part of a negotiations process.
          I would also like to put out there the Candace Chow remarked that the Board offered to do a hybrid style of negotiations…but that was offered the first day of negotiations!!! Uh, doesn’t some planning and training need to go into that first or at least that’s what I’ve read in the other articles I’ve read. Hopefully next week, talks will be productive and my kids won’t miss a few days of school in Sept/Oct!

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