Hinsdale District 86 Board reacts to reported teacher strike vote

hinsdale district 86 strike
Teachers outside Hinsdale South High School | Kimberly Fornek/Sun-Times Media
Kimberly Fornek
kfornek@pioneerlocal.com
June 2 9:15 p.m.

Officials of the Hinsdale High School Teachers Association, which represents 377 teachers at both Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South high schools, confirmed a vote took place on authorizing a strike, but did not reveal the results.

Motorists driving down 75th Street next to Hinsdale South High School in Darien Monday evening, however, might draw their own conclusions.

Teachers wearing blue HHSTA T-shirts marched carrying signs that read, “Committed to our students, our community and our profession,” and “Concerned about the tradition of excellence.”

“The issue we are trying to communicate today is not about (contract) negotiations,” said David Lapetino, president of the teachers’ association at South. “It’s the issues that have been going on throughout the school year.”

Union officials handed out a page of teacher concerns, including the School Board passing a zero-tax levy, “attempted teacher reduction during staffing,” and the board “settling a lawsuit brought by a former board member after an appeals court dismissed the suit.”

“We want to make sure our community is fully aware of our concerns before we leave for the summer,” Lapetino said.

John Bowman, the union president at Central, explained “sometimes families take a vacation from what is going on in the schools over the summer, in terms of decisions that are being made.”

In a statement, board President Richard Skoda called the union’s vote “surprisingly premature.” The board agreed May 5 to a union request for a federal mediator.

“The strike vote occurred the same week as the first mediation session between the board and the teachers,” which was May 27, Skoda said.

The board offered May 27 salary increases and performance pay that reflect the Consumer Price Index. The teachers’ representatives have not made a counter proposal to that offer, Skoda said.

At Monday’s School Board meeting, member Jennifer Planson advised against publicly revealing the details of the negotiations.

The union’s vote does not necessarily mean that a strike will occur, Skoda stated. District and union officials both said legally the teachers cannot strike before the current contract expires June 30.

“The District 86 teachers called for the strike vote before the end of the current school year and prior to the expiration date of the current contract,” Skoda stated. “We are hopeful, however, that the HHSTA will continue to join us in good faith negotiations under the guidance of the federal mediator throughout the summer.”

Meetings with the federal mediator are scheduled for June 10 and June 26, Skoda said.

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