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!

Author Joelle Charbonneau tweets about Edgewood students

During the first quarter, Lindsey Foreman read aloud to her seventh grade students the book The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau.  After finishing, the students wrote friendly letters to the author, who in return responded to the students’ letters, answered all of their questions, and also tweeted about them on that same day!  Now, the author is planning a visit to Edgewood Middle School to meet all the students and talk about her new book coming out on January 7. In the meantime the students in Lindsey’s seventh grade class have continued exchanging emails with Ms. Charbonneau, have received care packages, and have been following her on Twitter.

Please send us some pictures once you meet the author!