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Waukegan school strike finally ends

Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

* Things got tense in Waukegan Tuesday night when an angry audience confronted the local school board over a three-week teachers strike

Tempers flared in the north suburbs Tuesday night as anger and frustration over a three-week teachers’ strike boil over.

Despite extra security, metal detectors and barricades for crowd control, the Waukegan school board abruptly ended its meeting. […]

When the school board announced the time allotted for public comment would be shorter than expected, tempers flared.

Board members tried to conduct the meeting, but the crowd shouted them down. What happened next eliciting even more anger.


In response to jeers, school board member Victoria Torres leapt off the stage and into the crowd, where she scolded teachers and parents.

“Alright, let’s go! I’m a parent too! Yeah, sit down and shut up. Yeah, shut up!” Torres told the crowd. […]

“Her conduct was unacceptable, unnecessary, unprofessional; and I think the only thing she should do now is resign her position,” Waukegan Mayor Wayne Motley told a local CBS outlet. “I will contact the board members. I think that she set negotiations back two weeks.”

Raw video is here. Torres apologized the next day.

This strike has torn open some major wounds, as teacher strikes usually do. But quite a few politicians embraced the striking teachers, putting even more pressure on the school board.

* Yesterday, Gov. Quinn dispatched his state school board chairman Gery Chico to help mediate and the strike was finally settled last night. From a joint statement from the Board of Education and the Waukegan Teachers’ Council…

Shortly before midnight tonight, the Board of Education for Waukegan Community Unit School District # 60 and the Waukegan Teachers’ Council reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract.

All schools will remain closed on October 30 and October 31, as both parties review the agreement. Pending a ratification by teachers on Thursday, teachers will return to work on Friday to help prepare schools for re-opening to students on Monday, November 3.

“This tentative agreement represents not only a compromise between the Union and the Board, but an end to what was a long, trying process for all parties involved,” said Waukegan Teachers’ Council President Kathy Schwarz. “We are grateful to the entire Waukegan community that struggled with us through these difficult times. We would also like to thank Governor Pat Quinn and Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gery Chico for their assistance during the conclusion of contract talks. After years of instability, we are hopeful that this agreement will be the first step in giving our students the schools they deserve.”

“It is with great delight that we acknowledge having reached a Tentative Agreement with our teachers that will return our students to their classrooms. These last four weeks have been difficult for everyone involved. Both the Board of Education and I have witnessed first hand a great passion for education from parents, students and community members.

We eagerly look forward to working together as a community for the betterment of our students,” said Waukegan Superintendent Dr. Donaldo R. Batiste, and we thank the many community partners who came forward to offer invaluable support and assistance. Particular gratitude is extended to Governor Quinn, ISBE Chairman Chico, State Superintendent Koch, and Regional Superintendent Wood,” said Superintendent, Dr. Donaldo R. Batiste.​

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Peoria Guy - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 10:07 am:

    Schools are here to help children become adults and then we see meetings like this where adults become children.

  2. - Anon2014 - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 10:14 am:

    Gery Chico is not the state superintendent. He is the chairman of the State Board of Education.

  3. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    Anon2014 - Take a closer look: “ISBE Chairman Chico, State Superintendent Koch”

  4. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 10:27 am:

    Anon2014 - My apologies, I missed the mistake above.

  5. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 10:28 am:

    Okay - snark warning - did Gery Chico promise the district some DCEO money?!

  6. - Homer J. Simpson - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    Isn’t it odd to anyone else that they are praising Quinn for solving this issue? If the schools were funded appropriately this fight would not have been necessary.

  7. - Nonplussed - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    Homer: Here was what led to the strike:

    “…Under the district proposal, all teachers would receive a 2.3 percent salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2013, but there would be no additional increases for tenure, or steps, nor for education earned beyond a bachelor’s degree, known as lane movement. The district also wanted to cease 100 percent payment of insurance premiums for single employees, calling for contributions of $10 per pay period or $240 per year. It also called for employees with dependent coverage to pay a percentage of any annual increases in premiums.

    The union proposal calls for all teachers to receive a 2.25 percent raise retroactive to July 1, 2013, and also allows teachers to move up salary scales related to tenure and education. Teachers with a certain amount of longevity would also receive a raise of 5 percent.

    Under the union proposal, there would be no cost-sharing on health insurance premiums for single coverage, though those with dependent coverage would cover a percentage of escalating costs.

  8. - anon. - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 10:54 am:

    Another phoney teachers strike. If a factory worker strikes for a month he looses a months pay. The schools must make up the lost days & pay the teachers so they lose nothing. Who looses? The kids (interrupted learning, lost sports etc.) & the parents (concern for their kids and child care woes), the public ( higher costs, higher taxes).

  9. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 11:13 am:

    I understand that the real causation for this strike was the school board over taxing the community and building a $37 million surplus fund. The teachers saw that, and wanted to plunder it as pirates are wont to do.

    If they hadn’t overtaxed the community, there would have been no “surplus” funds for the union to ravage, and the kids never would have had their less than mediocre quality of education from recalcitrant and ineffective teachers disrupted.

    School boards and teachers unions just can’t resist acting on their unjustified greed. That’s the key axiom in Illinois public education.

  10. - Bobbysox - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 11:18 am:

    Gee, like it or not, Quinn did help. It took some individuals with significant outside credibility to convince both sides to get over that last hurdle and reach agreement.
    I can’t help but think that if Rauner was the Governor that he would be applauding the behavior of the Waukegan School Board on Tuesday night and encouraging the School Board to never compromise, based on his earlier statements that he is willing to shut down the Government in order to shake up Springfield.

  11. - Person 8 - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    “School boards and teachers unions just can’t resist acting on their unjustified greed.”

    So it’s ok for people like Rauner to do it, but not unions or teachers?

  12. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 11:27 am:

    Yes, I think Rauner, who would shut down the government in order to shake up Springfield would be
    wildly popular with all the parents keeping kids out of schools. After all, just throw them a book or two and they can all self educate, just like he did, I’m sure. Or AZ Bob, who apparently self-taught since he thinks nothing of value goes on in schools. I wonder if he home schooled his kids to ensure their genius? Or maybe those parents can take unlimited time off to help in the process. Guess we’ll never know about this strike, but if elected, we’ll see……..

  13. - Wensicia - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 11:30 am:

    The school board doesn’t have the authority to increase local property taxes, this can be achieved only through referendum. The last referendum asking for a local property tax increase was over 14 years ago. Since 2008, property values have decreased in Waukegan, up to 45% in some cases, yet the board still managed to accumulate this surplus, by freezing wages and increasing class size.

    Yes, Waukegan is a poor community, but the money is there to afford competitive wages for good teachers. And our students deserve these teachers.

  14. - Demoralized - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    ==wanted to plunder it as pirates ==

    ==less than mediocre quality of education from recalcitrant and ineffective teachers disrupted==

    Bob, why do you have such disdain for those in the profession that you once were a part of?

    == $37 million surplus fund==

    There’s nothing wrong with a surplus. They are there for a reason. But apparently according to you there should never be a surplus. Wouldn’t want to plan for any contingencies. Brilliant financial plan Bob.

  15. - Jake From Elwood - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 11:38 am:

    I am of the belief that the State promised the District some money to make this dispute go away.
    Here is what will come next:
    There will be a new school board.
    There will be a new Superintendent.
    There will be new Principals.
    There will be new board attorneys.
    There will be new Union leadership.
    The kids will go to school for half the summer.

  16. - Hoping for Rational Thought - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 11:58 am:

    You need to put the $37 million surplus in context. One of the items of a school’ financial profile is days cash on hand. In 2013 the districts days cash on hand was 75 days. You are score 1 - 4 with 4 being best. Under 90 days is a 2 and you need 180 days or more to score a 4. The state’s measurement says then need to have more on hand not less.
    Link to most recent numbers for Waukegan.

  17. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 12:14 pm:

    @Person 8

    =So it’s ok for people like Rauner to do it, but not unions or teachers?=

    Rauner, at this point, is not an elected official with a moral obligation to put the citizens interests above his own. IF he’s elected and still lines his pockets (which I doubt he will) that’s another story.

    It’s been my experience over the last three decades of dealing with school boards that many of them are there not to improve the quality of education for the kids or manage the services provided more efficiently, but to gain power and influence from doling out jobs, contracts, and privileges to their friends that others cannot get.

    The more they tax, the more they have, the more they can steer to those who can help them politically or personally.

    A few have no clue about what’s really going on in schools,and don’t care to know. They’re there just for the status and clout to raise their esteem with their circle of friends. The “sharks” running the board can get what they want from these types just by flattering them.

    The unions are there to plunder the childrens resources as much as they can, and do the least to get the most. I can respect that. They don’t have responsibility to the kids or community. It’s entirely self interest.

    The ones I have a problem with are the elected officials in Springfield that allow the unions to control the schools by not prohibiting strikes or putting pensions on a sound footing.

    They were elected to serve the people, but betray them for union cash and votes, as too often do the unsalaried school board members.

  18. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 12:18 pm:

    @ hoping

    Point well taken. I thought that those were the “surplus” funds beyond the 6 mos operating fund reserves recommended by the ISBE. I was only going from the published stories, my mistake. I should have checked the ISBE “finance” section in school reporting info.

    Well done.

  19. - Amalia - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    Victoria Torres is the interesting figure in all of this for me. It’s true of almost every public figure who sits at such a meeting that their inner voice is that of Torres. It is not easy sitting on the public body for one of those kinds of meetings.

  20. - Peoria Guy - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 12:56 pm:

    ====Victoria Torres is the interesting figure in all of this for me. It’s true of almost every public figure who sits at such a meeting that their inner voice is that of Torres.=====

    No doubt!

  21. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 1:05 pm:

    ==- Demoralized - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 11:36 am:==

    Because Bob assumes everyone is as asinine, selfish, and not dedicated to their vocation as he was.

  22. - JS Mill - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    @Anon 10:54- There is no requirement for the school district to make up the days lost in the strike. In fact, Galesburg recently ended a strike and, last I heard, was not making up the days. I would guess that Waukegan will make up the days, their students need it but it is their decision not a requirement.

  23. - JS Mill - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    @Az Bob- Your incoherent, vitriolic, and unfounded ramblings belie the fact that someone hurt you and you feel the need to cloak and entire profession with your anger. You are a sad, sad man.

  24. - Peoria Guy - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    That is correct JS. Galesburg is not making up all the school days and the teachers are not getting paid for all the days missed.

  25. - Peoria Guy - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 1:40 pm:

    Yeah, AZ Bob does appear bitter and somewhat clueless as to public education.

  26. - Wensicia - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 1:43 pm:

    ==I would guess that Waukegan will make up the days, their students need it but it is their decision not a requirement.==

    If the students do not put in the required number of days - 176 - the district will lose state funds. The required school days must be entered by June 30, 2015, the cut-off day for the school year.

  27. - Wensicia - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 1:50 pm:

    Governor Quinn’s statement on the tentative agreement:

  28. - JS Mill - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 2:02 pm:

    @Wensicia- you are correct- they will receive reduced funding for any day they do not make up, with the exception of Act of God days. But,again, it is entirely up to the Board of Education unless something is included in the agreement with the teachers. If they don’t (and I am sure they will) it would only worsen the relationship. It will be a real challenge to get all of the days in on time, especially if we have another tough winter. Good luck to the entire district moving forward.

    I do have to say that the mayor and other elected officials really should have stayed our of the fray. The mayor might have enough on his hands with addressing the many other needs of that community.

  29. - ajtg - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 2:07 pm:

    “…we are hopeful that this agreement will be the first step in giving our students the schools they deserve.”

    I am sure this was all about the students…right.

  30. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 2:36 pm:

    @Peoria gut and @JS mill

    I guess you reveal your ignorance when you can only make personal attacks and not provide rebuttal to the points made.

    I’m not bitter, but I am angry that the state of Illinois has sold out our kids and worked against the public interest for union and educational bureaucracy votes and money.

    My frustration is from being far more diverse and broad based in my educational experience than apparently either of you,and seeing those who could make a difference ostracized and ousted in favor of the parasites in public education.

    In the US we receive third world educational quality for top expenditures, Doesn’t that bother either of you? If smart people who have educational achievement as their primary goal were allowed to innovate and take our schools to a 21st century level, we could lead the world and provide the economic mobility we so sorely need.

    The only obstacle is the self centered, greedy educational bureaucracy. Until we neuter those folks, the situation is hopeless, at least in Illinois.

  31. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 3:50 pm:

    Schools and those who work in them are the new Salem Witches, the new darlings to hate, the newest cool thing to trash. If you google the world rankings of universities, you will see that the top 10 world universities, of highest quality are in the US (8) and UK(2). WORLD rankings. These universities are filled with the so-called third world educated American students. How does this happen? Students in so called third world educational institutions in the US are scoring perfect ACTs and SATs at record high numbers. This certainly seems to contradict the garbage quality of American schools, not to mention universities. Now, if you live in a deprived socio-economic area where education is not valued and schools are not supported, I suppose you might think that your schools are not very good. I don’t know of any subpar, third world school districts in the extremely large geographical area that I live in. Here, our students countywide are winning awards and schools (meaning their teachers and administrators) are excellent and win awards. Do I speak for the entire state? No. But Illinois does NOT have third world education, nor does our country unless all these highly regarded ranking tools and their media are smoking funny things.

  32. - JS Mill - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 4:24 pm:

    =Until we neuter those folks= how civilized, I stand by my previous statements and have debunked your statements before, it is like playing whack-a-mole.

    You provide no evidence to support your tired “public schools stick, let’s get vouchers” type rhetoric.

    Diversity of background? By what basis do you drivel on about that? The diversity of my experiences goes something like this- private and public schooling in the mid-west and west coast, public and private University degrees, private sector employment, regular public school employment, alternative school employment, private for-profit educational employment, teacher, administrator. Your turn to support your baseless comments with facts.

    Here is another little ditty for your consumption-

    When equalized for poverty, American students from schools with 50% or less poverty rank in the top five in math and science internationally.

    When you consider school with 25% or less poverty American students are #1 or #2 in EVERY category.

    Yup, we really suck.

    On top of that we are the ONLY Nation in the world that educattes EVERY student regardless of wealth, language, ability, or disability. The ONLY Nation in the WORLD.

    Poverty is our enemy, not educators.

    What else do you have? Shame on you, but I still feel sorry for you.

  33. - Peoria Guy - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 4:47 pm:

    JS Mill, I learned long ago to not go back and forth with people like Arizona Bob. He has nothing but insults, cheap shots and bitterness. Not much of a thinking person.

    JS, you have a great day!

  34. - Daddio - Monday, Nov 3, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    Many of us knew this strike had to be buttoned up by October 31 to make the cutoff where the students would be able to make up the missed days by June 3oth. We knew therefor that the strike would end on or prior to October 31st. I just wonder if anyone else finds that convenient to the elections occurring just a few days later and the idea that the Governor might just have been a part of this plan all along?Just fod for thought.

  35. - Daddio - Monday, Nov 3, 14 @ 12:51 pm:

    I saw my comment said “fod for thought”. I hope I’m not going to see a bunch of people challenging my spelling rather than staying focused on the topic, because it was a simple slip.

  36. - SD - Wednesday, Nov 12, 14 @ 11:03 am:

    I checked the average wage for teachers in this
    district and they are not paid what they are worth.
    Why are so many people against teachers? We should be outraged with our politicians who in some cases
    serve 1 or 2 terms and get lifetime benefits.

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