Kaneland requested renegotiation in early November
by Susan O’Neill
KANELANDâ€”A letter sent to the Kaneland Education Association at the beginning of the month requesting that members return to the bargaining table so far remains unanswered.
The Kaneland School District, faced with a $3 million projected deficit in next year’s budget, recently asked Kaneland teachers to renegotiate the contract ratified last year. The contract included salary increases for Kaneland teachers over a period of three years: 4.86 percent for last year, 6.21 percent for this year, and 5.6 percent for fiscal year 2010-11.
According to Kaneland Superintendent Charlie McCormick, next year’s increase for the teachers accounts for $1.2 million of the districtâ€™s budget. Adding in the same percentage increases for non-covered school employees brings the total to $1.5 million.
Associate Superintendent Jeff Schuler said that the district must remain on target with its timeline for cost reductions, in order to meet its obligations under the Illinois School Code.
Schuler said he will continue working with the district’s main areas of operation, including classroom instruction, transportation, technology, maintenance, administration, support service and food service, through early December to come up with a comprehensive district plan for budget cuts. These budget proposals will be presented to the School Board for its approval at its first meeting in January 2010.
â€œWe have to work with our current set of assumptions in our financial planning model,â€ he said.
Schuler said he respects the position in which the association finds itself, and he understands that it has to follow its own process. However, he said the school administration’s intent is to follow its own timeline.
â€œWe don’t want to eliminate jobs that we don’t have to,â€ he said. â€œThose decisions impact people and those decisions impact families.â€
Schuler said that whatever cuts or changes to the budget that are presented to the board in January must be approved and implemented by late February or early March.
â€œAny shifts in compensation for any employee groups would happen in this timeline,â€ he said.
According to the Illinois School Code, notices of job cuts must take place in March in order to be implemented by the end of the school year.
Calls to Kaneland Education Association President Linda Zulkowski were not returned by press time.