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RBEA responds to board member’s allegation (UPDATE)

Courtesy of RBTV

RBEA President Doug Schultz made a public statement on behalf of the teachers union on 9/25 in response to comments by Board Vice President Dr. John Keen that suggested the RBEA was unwilling to help the school achieve financial stability.

Courtesy of RBTV

RBEA President Doug Schultz made a public statement on behalf of the teachers union on 9/25 in response to comments by Board Vice President Dr. John Keen that suggested the RBEA was unwilling to help the school achieve financial stability.

Rebecca Rusiecki, News Editor

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UPDATED 10/5/12 (12:14 p.m.)

At the September 25th Board of Education Committee of the Whole meeting, RBEA President Doug Schultz responded to comments made by Board Vice President Dr. John Keen at the September 11th regular meeting that suggested teachers were not willing to help RB achieve financial stability.

At the 9/11 meeting, Keen said that, if the teachers had been willing to sacrifice, the District would not have a projected budget deficit of $278,000 for the end of 2012-13.

“I think almost all stakeholders in this institution gave something up except for one,” Keen said. “If that group had contributed to this budget, we would actually have a surplus. I think, looking forward, I really hope that all stakeholders will get on board to maintain our financial stability.”

In response, Schultz made a comment at the 9/25 meeting, publicly representing the RBEA, that argued that the teachers had been more than willing to open negotiations to help relieve some of the district’s financial problems. For example, he stated that, in December of 2011, RBEA members voted 95 to5 to open negotiations early and discuss possible concessions to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. According to Schultz, the RBEA offered at that time to take approximately $1.26 million in pay freezes, yet this was denied by board representatives. Furthermore, Schultz said that the offer was rejected without discussion or consulting a legal counsel. According to Schultz, it was later determined by a PMA representative that the pay freezes would have saved the District an additional $500,000. This would have saved the District approximately $1.7 million.  According to the Riverside Brookfield Landmark last year, the freeze Schultz described was offered in return for some form of contract extension.

“We are saddened that the Board of Education feels like the RBEA was an unwilling stakeholder. We are equally saddened that the Board of Education would publicly misrepresent the RBEA’s willingness to help the district financially during these difficult times,” Schultz said in his statement to the Board.

At the time of the meeting, the Board did not respond publicly to these comments.

Many teachers came to the September 25th Board of Education meeting to support Schultz. As the teachers’ five-year contracts expire near the end of this school year, much of the negotiations will focus on pay and insurance benefits. The current contract expires on June 30, 2013. By law, the RBEA must begin negotiating a new contract at least 45 days prior to the expiration of the current contract. If a contract agreement cannot be reached before the start of the 2013-2014 school year, the teachers will continue operating under the existing contract as negotiations continue.

“The teachers are more than willing stakeholders at Riverside Brookfield High School, as evidenced by our previous offers,” said Schultz in his statement to the Board. “We would hope that this board would value the teachers at RB and respect the factual efforts that the RBEA has made to help the entire RB community.”

Board President Matt Sinde responded to the event via e-mail to the Clarion by saying, “The board has agreed that it will not discuss any information regarding negotiations with the RBEA.”

However, another board member, Lauren Hruska, said, in a quote given to the Riverside Brookfield Landmark, ““No I don’t agree with those comments [by Dr. John Keen], nor would I believe those comments are the sentiments of the board.”

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Free of Bull, Full of Bulldogs
RBEA responds to board member’s allegation (UPDATE)