RB teachers, their contract and union — 11/11/2011

November 11, 2011:

elsewhere on the site a back-and-forth has begun about the clarion’s interview of david monti, president of the RB teachers’ union.

since relations with the union are of utmost importance, especially in light of the deficits facing district 208, i would like to repeat a couple of points, and make a couple of new ones.

first, however, full disclosure: my son has mr monti for biology. please discount all of what follows as you see fit. here goes:

1) i appreciate mr mancoff taking the time to draw community attention to the clarion and its editorial content.

2) imho, as stated many times above and elsewhere, illinois authorizes the teachers’ to organize into a union, and the teachers have every right — through their union — to bargain for the very best deal they can get. one hopes no one begrudges them these points.

3) we have some terrific teachers at RB, who do great work educating those of our kids who land in their respective classrooms. no one i know fails to recognize this or is unappreciative of the high quality of RB’s teacher corps.

4) but many community members are frustrated by the contract under which RB’s teachers are currently operating. mr. monti may not have heard about this, but it has been a constant theme in posts here and at the RB Landmark, as well as in both the candidate and referendum campaigns / public forums of last spring.

5) ‘concern over the contract’ is not equivalent to ‘disregard for the teachers.’ rather, at least as i have written about it, it reflects disappointment with the community’s representative in contract talks, i.e. the board of education c. 2008…

6) …because in precisely the same way that the teachers have every right to bargain for the best deal they can get in negotiations, so too does the community. in fact, the board of 2008 was obligated to get the best deal it could as fiduciary representatives of the residents, taxpayers, parents and students of the district.

7) and, as it is entirely within the purview of RB teachers to say, individually or collectively, ‘we trust mr. monti, let’s elect him president of our teacher association,’ our community members have every right to say, individually or collectively, ‘the 2008 district 208 board of education failed us in its fiduciary duty by agreeing to the current RB contract.’

8) in earlier posts, with all seriousness, i have noted that one might wish our negotiators in 2007-2008 were as smart as the teachers’.

9) i ask no one to join me in this view — everyone should take their own view — but it is hard not to have noted that the two principal d208 board representatives to the 2007-2008 ‘negotiations’ chose not to stand for re-election. the other two board members in that group also chose not to face the voters. the board member who vocally opposed the 2008 contract at the time was handily re-elected to the board this year. another member who supported the contract was defeated in 2009, and non-incumbent contract supporters lost in 2009 and in april of this year. in fact, by may of this year all 2008 contract supporters were off of the board and the referendum to pay for the 2008 contract’s back end had failed by more than three voters to one.

10) and so the new board, with its considerable credentials and qualifications (MBAs, IRS investigator, MD, JD, etc), is now tasked on behalf of the residents, taxpayers, parents and students to sort through the sources and uses of revenues at d208 and move the district from here to its next place, hopefully on its way to being the finest illinois public high school of its size.

11) in so doing the board, since may, has uncovered patterns of extraordinary management neglect within RB, which appear of a piece with both the 2008 board’s negotiation laxity and a sad progression of gross embarrassments for the school and community. latest among these include the absence of any employee evaluation system and cost overruns on the still-unaudited construction project (it turns out, according to the 25 october board meeting, that the project was not $58 million, or $60 million, but quietly drifted up to $66 million, with no public disclosure by the board supposedly in charge at the time. greater rationale for a standard close-out audit is impossible to come by).

12) i read what mr. monti says about not hearing of concerns with the contract, and the rest of his interview, as an entirely thoughtful and appropriate expression on behalf of his members. it is a good contract for the teachers and it’s mr. monti’s job to support it. as it did in 2007-2008, the leadership of the union is advocating appropriately in its role. i for one read nothing final, immutable or irreversible in what was said.

13) in fact mr. monti did us all a favor by disclosing current union leadership — and presumably membership — thinking on this issue. that’s a public service for which i express thanks.

14) one hopes that unlike 2007-2008, we of the community will see our fiduciaries take on their thoughtful and appropriate role with respect to the union, as they have since may with the budget and management of RB, so that all elements of d208 have confidence that their points were well made in the ultimate resolution of the very deep fiscal crisis that is the legacy of the last board and its many failures.

POSTED FRIDAY NOV 11, 2011 11:14 #
Explore posts in the same categories: Riverside Brookfield High School -- Athletics, Riverside Brookfield High School -- Turnaround

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