Union, School Board to Begin Teacher Contract Negotiations

By Ivana Kosir

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Negotiations for the teachers’ contract are scheduled to begin in March, and potential changes may be in effect for Niles West students in the 2012-2013 school year.

Two teams consisting of members of the teachers’ Union, NTFT, and the administration will lead negotiations, which include various aspects to the contract.

“Negotiations can include anything, [such as] wages, teachers’ schedules, school-day schedule, working conditions, and the number of students students per class,” said AP psychology teacher, NTFT vice president, and member of the negotiations team Steve Grossman.

According to Board member and member of the negotiations team Bob Silverman, the goal of negotiations is to provide students with more opportunities and improve academic achievement.

“We’ll be tackling all issues that will deal with teaching and learning and compensation for teachers,” Silverman said.

While much of the negotiation is revolved around economic issues, the school-day schedule poses a more direct change for students. Previously, a committee was formed to study the school day schedule; however, Grossman believes that the discussion on whether to change the schedule is moving too fast.

“The Union committee believed that the committee’s work wasn’t done. If there is an interest to change the school day, it needs to be thoroughly studied,” Grossman said.

Silverman thinks otherwise.

“We’ve gathered as much research and opinions as we can,” Silverman said.

Both parties believe that negotiations will last a long time and continue through the summer.

“Nothing will probably be settled by June,” said Grossman.

“I’m pretty confident we’ll be negotiating through the summer,” said Silverman.

If a consensus has not been reached by the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, students shouldn’t expect a strike. According to Grossman, it is a long process, and the chances of having a strike is slim.