BY CAROL ROEHM
Danville School District 118 members agreed Monday night to accept an Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board ruling made last month to bargain the teachers’ and the secretaries’ contracts concurrently.
The ruling ends a months-long dispute between the school district and the Danville Education Association about how the two contracts should be negotiated.
The DEA received word on Feb. 22 that the labor board ruled in favor of the union.
Union representatives had filed a petition Aug. 1 to merge the bargaining units for the teachers and teaching assistants and for secretaries and learning resource clerks into one unit.
The union had been seeking to bargain the two contracts — one for teachers and teaching assistants and the other for secretaries and learning resource clerks — concurrently, as it had done in the past. District 118 board members, however, wanted to create two separate negotiating teams to negotiate the contracts separately.
The current contracts, which cover a total of 449 certified employees and 206 noncertified employees, expired June 30, 2012.
After a three-and-a-half hour long meeting Monday night, Superintendent Mark Denman said, “The board is going to accept the ruling of the labor board and not appeal it.
“In exchange, the DEA has agreed to exempt one secretarial position from its membership,” he said.
Denman described that secretarial position as “half superintendent secretary/half accounts payable secretary.”
DEA President Robin Twidwell said only the accounts payable portion of that position was covered by the union, so the DEA was giving up half of a union position.
“They wanted two other secretary positions to be non-union, but they agreed to the half position,” she said.
The DEA membership still needs to vote on merging the bargaining units and negotiating the contracts concurrently.
Twidwell said the labor board will set the date for the vote, which she anticipates will occur between April 1 and 10.
Also, a previously scheduled meeting with the federal mediator on Thursday has been canceled. Twidwell said the two sides won’t meet again until after the vote is taken.
When the two sides meet again in April, Twidwell predicted the talks will entail “impact negotiations,” especially after receiving a list of cuts Monday night the district proposes to make.
Twidwell said the district proposes to cut 25 positions, 14 of which would be in the elementary schools, six or eight at the high school and several at the middle schools.
“They want to cut 14 elementary positions, but plan to hire four teaching assistants to deal with the oversized classes,” she said.
Twidwell said the cuts could cause some classes to swell to 25-35 students, which exceeds the class size limit of 24 students set by the previous contract.