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Proviso Probe

Friday, November 04, 2005

GOV, high school teacher contract [D209]

I already blogged about the District 209 (Proviso Township High Schools) press conference to announce the new contract with teachers.

Here's what Suburban Life (Megan Brody) wrote:
Although a 19 percent raise over four years is unheard of in the private sector, teachers' union president Mona Johnson said the raises are in place to reduce attrition and align salaries with neighboring districts. About 330 teachers at the district's three high schools are represented by the union.

And Forest Park Review (Seth Stern):
"What we’ve actually done is put the school district in even more of a hole because we can’t afford to pay these salaries," said board member Charles Flowers.

The depth of the hole the district is in is unclear, but Flowers said the most recent estimates presented by former superintendent Greg Jackson, who was fired by Welch and the board majority in July, showed its operating deficit at $13 million.

And I got to write a column about the press conference.
If D209 staff want to be treated like professionals they need to act like professionals. Each staff member needs to decide if s/he is a professional who is primarily loyal to District 209 (students & taxpayers) or if s/he is a cog in the political patronage machine controlled by Democratic Committeeman Eugene Moore and his lieutenant Chris Welch....

And of course, the district officials should be able to explain the tax ramifications of the new contract. Mona Johnson, the president of the teachers union, could tick off everything her negotiating team got for its constituents, the teachers. Why couldn’t the school board president (Welch), the superintendent (Phylistine Murphy) or the "chief education officer" (Robert Libka) speak to the taxpayers in equivalent detail?

Did Welch, Murphy and Libka think the media wouldn’t notice they were hiding the cost of the contract? How could they think they would hold a press conference specifically on the new contract and not have the media ask about cost?

The editor added the headline, "If you want good press, go to press conferences prepared".

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