A message from Pam Kramer, NSEA President

The NSEA was very disappointed that what should have been a moment of celebration — the approval of a contract that was a year in the making — was ruined by the thoughtless comments of one board member.

When a bargaining team enters into a tentative agreement, as the board did when agreeing to the contract that the NSEA ratified, all members of that team are required to support the agreement unless the other party is notified otherwise.

The NSEA was never notified that Mr. Cohn would not support ratification. By speaking out as he did, Mr. Cohn made it very clear that he is not a team player. If the rest of the board had chosen to follow Mr. Cohn’s irresponsible “no” vote, the NSEA would have filed unfair labor practice charges.

We worked very hard with all the board members to come to a fair agreement — one that meets the needs of the district and still is fair to teachers. It’s disappointing that one board member chose to express his personal displeasure in such a public manner, and in a manner which clearly was dismissive of the abilities of the rest of the board members to negotiate a contract.

Mr. Cohn also mentioned “lies,” “greed” and using “students as pawns.” It’s rather appalling that a board member would be so publicly disrespectful of the teachers who work in the district.

That being said, the NSEA is looking forward to a continuing successful relationship with not only the current administration but also with those board members who choose to collaborate with and listen to the teachers. The board as a whole has been supportive of teachers in the past, and we look forward to that in the future.

Joint Statement from NSSD112 and the NSEA

The following statement is issued jointly from North Shore School District 112 and the North Shore Education Association

North Shore School District 112 and the North Shore Education Association (the teachers’ collective bargaining unit) began labor negotiations in May, 2014. Both parties engaged in many positive, collaborative discussions on identified interests and collectively brainstormed options for consensus. Over the course of six months, both parties met consistently to build and develop relationships beyond the bargaining table. The parties then entered into three months of mediation with a federal mediator. Throughout this process the parties met together to discuss ideas and issues.

The parties met twice during this past three-day weekend to try to come to agreement. The parties believe that they have agreed on a framework for a five-year contract. A subcommittee representing both parties will meet to finalize a salary schedule that addresses the parties’ desire to make NSSD112’s starting salary competitive with comparable districts, and one that also shows experienced teachers that they are appreciated and valued.

Both parties are hopeful that a final agreement will be reached shortly.

NSEA Negotiations Update

Your Negotiations Team wants you to know that last week they finished the second of a two-day training in Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB).

The NSEA Negotiations team consists of Tony DiBenedetto, Laurie Weil, Pamela Kramer, Kara Smith, Emily Castillo-Oh, Jenni Cooper, Kathy Anaya, Bill Steinbach, Alexie Downey, Amanda Wiehl, and Sheri Henkel. The district’s team consists of board members Jane Mordini and Michael Cohen, administrators John Sprangers, Monica Schroeder, Michael Bregge, Matt Erikson, Mohsin Dada, and Craig Keer, and district attorneys Mike Loizzi and Jennifer Moeller. The members of both teams attended the IBB training together in a collaborative environment.

We have set many dates to meet between now and the end of the year, as well as two dates over the summer. We are optimistic that using the IBB process for negotiating will allow for more communication between the parties, and the sharing of thoughts and concerns. Rest assured that we will be communicating with you as often as possible.

Thank you for all your support!


Your Negotiations Team


Fern Kravitz Scholarship Winner Announced!

The North Shore Education Association is delighted to announce that Lily Cott was selected to receive this year’s Fern Kravitz Scholarship. This honor is awarded to a high school senior who attended a District 112 junior high school and intends to pursue a career in education. Lily’s strong academic record, community service activities, and extra-curricular involvement earned the attention of the scholarship committee. However, it was her reflective and eloquently written essay that set her apart from the other strong candidates. The members of the 2014 Fern Kravitz Scholarship committee would like to congratulate Lily and wish her the very best of luck as she prepares for her career in the field of education.

District 112 Art Exhibit

District 112 Art Teachers have been working this winter to select and prepare student artwork for display in the district art show : “Elementary Expressions, 2014“, at The Art Center in Highland Park. This long standing tradition celebrates the successes of our young artists by showcasing the wide variety of media, concepts, and processes learned through the district art programs. The show was set up on February 18th and runs through February 27th– more than 500 works of art are displayed in the main gallery spaces at The Art Center. There will be an artist’s reception on Tuesday, February 25th from 5 to 7 pm. District music teachers have invited several young musicians from D112 who will perform at the reception as well.

Edgewood Middle School students Skype with Oxford University expert

The students in Mrs. Suzanne Ott’s 1st and 2nd period classes had the opportunity to Skype with Oxford University’s Janet McMullin, as part of their Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland study. Ms. McMullin, who is a librarian at Oxford University’s Christ Church and an expert on Alice studies, spoke with the students and gave them the opportunity to ask questions based on the study of the book and her expertise.  There is no doubt that this remarkable and enriching educational experience ties with our district’s mission to “nurture every child to become an inspired learner, well-rounded individual, and contributing member of a global community by striving for excellence within an environment that fosters innovation, respect, engagement and intellectual inquiry.”

Message from the NSEA

Message from the NSEA in response to the report prepared by Superintendent’s Citizen Facilities and Finance Advisory Committee (SCFFAC):

The NSEA is in support of the district finding a way to restructure schools if necessary to maintain excellent school quality as well as fiscal stability. Everything the NSEA has done, including through negotiations, has been completed with careful research, school quality and the financial stability of the district in mind. The final report of the SCFFAC, however, is not accurate regarding several factors, including the negotiated raises of teachers in District 112.

Several figures in the report are misleading or factually incorrect. For example, the report states: “ …all District teachers receive a 3% annual “step” increase in salary, as well as a 0.5% increase for additional coursework/education.” That statement is not true. Some
teachers received 3% increases. Some teachers received only a 1% increase. Some teachers also received an additional increase for completing master’s degree coursework. An accurate statement would be that teachers received raises of differing percentages, many as low as 1%. Generally speaking, the most experienced and senior teachers in the school district received the lowest percentage raises.

There are other significant errors in the report. It states: “Historically, the salary and benefits established for the District’s unionized teachers generally serve as a benchmark for the compensation of administrative personnel …” That certainly is not the case for the
district’s highest ranking administrators. In his most recent contract, the Chief Financial Officer is receiving a salary that is comparable to that of the Superintendent. The CFO’s increase over the past two years is 37.5% in addition to insurance benefits (last year = $26,142 cash option), travel benefits of $5,400, and pension contributions of $18,271 (last year). The Superintendent has received, in addition to his $224,424 salary, “other pay/stipend” of $37,889. Teacher increases cannot objectively be viewed as a “benchmark” for those administrators’ raises.

The report also states: “The District needs to be prepared to assume additional pension liability starting at approximately 0.5%/year.” While there have been many ideas related to school funding and pension debated in the General Assembly in recent years, there is nothing in the current law that changes pension obligations. And there is little indication that any significant change will occur. All teachers are responsible for their own pension contributions.

The NSEA is responding to the report by attempting to correct some of the misleading figures and statistics contained therein, as well as showing those figures and statistics as compared with some administrative personnel. We believe this report puts forth potentially valuable data that may be helpful in the future. Its accuracy is of paramount importance.

Oak Terrace Students visit HPHS for Halloween Concert

For the last several years, students at Oak Terrace have enjoyed the annual Halloween Band Concert at Highland Park High School.  It has been a wonderful experience for the students to hear symphonic music performed live.  The high school students are dressed in costume and the theater is decorated with all kinds of fun and spooky props.  The director, Dr. Jim Hile, dresses as Dracula and not only entertains the kids with funny dialog, but he explains the musical selections and history of the pieces.  On some of the pieces, there is video, and on others, the audience is invited to dance or clap.  Students are amazed and engaged for the entire 45 minutes of the performance.  This year, our entire school attended and a good time was had by all!