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Board waiting on state ruling

Juenger says answer on whether tests can be postponed will come today

Published: Friday, March 8, 2013 1:15 a.m. CST

DIXON – Superintendent Michael Juenger says the school board is waiting on a ruling from the state board on whether it must administer standardized tests next week.

Thursday marked the sixth day classes were canceled as members of the Dixon Education Association remain on strike. Classes are off today as well.

The board did not meet with the union’s negotiating team Thursday; it will meet with them today at 1 p.m.

Juenger said the board’s No. 1 goal is to get the Illinois Standards Achievement Test postponed. He will find out today if it can.

“We will try to abide by whatever the state wants us to do,” Juenger said. “We are actively working with the state.”

More details will be released today, he said.

On Wednesday, board President Tom Balser asked administrators to make plans for students to return to school to take the tests “with or without teachers.”

Balser did not return phone calls Thursday.

ISATs, taken in the spring by third- through eighth-graders, are conducted March 4-15 this year, according to the state school board’s website.

Juenger said the tests would be proctored by the administration and there are no plans to hire substitutes to cross the picket line.

Some parents attending a DEA question-and-answer session Wednesday said they would not allow their children to attend testing.

The district will need 95 percent attendance at testing to make adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

If fewer than that take the test, it does not matter how well other students perform, the district will not meet AYP, said Amanda Simhauser, spokeswoman for the state school board.

Students who do not show up will not receive reports, Simhauser said.

The school will not be financially penalized. Students will not be penalized, either, but they will not be allowed to make up the tests. It would be similar to someone calling in sick, she said.

“It is a very important test,” Simhauser said. “Parents will not be able to gauge their student’s progress on meeting targets.”

Also Thursday, the district lost about $28,506 in general state aid; it will lose that much now every day school is out. Makeup days are not required and will be negotiated.

What are they asking for?

Salary:

– The Dixon Education Association is asking for 2 percent to be added to the salary schedule for each of the next 4 years, in addition to pay step increases for experience and education. This would be a 3 percent to 4 percent pay increase for teachers who qualify for step increases. The cost of these proposals is about $330,000 a year.

– In the first year, the board is offering teachers a soft freeze, meaning only those who qualify for step increases will get a raise of between 1 percent and 2 percent. The board is offering a 1.5 percent raise with no step increases in the second and third year, and in the fourth year, a 2 percent raise with no steps. The cost of these proposals is about $160,000 a year.

Health insurance:

– The board is offering no change in the first year and a 2 percent increase for single coverage only in the second year. Both will increase by 2 percent in the next 2 years.

For single insurance coverage, teachers now pay 10 percent per month. For family, they pay 12 percent, or a maximum of $150. Starting in 2013-2014, the spouses of new employees may not qualify for coverage if they have their own insurance provided by their employer.

– Teachers are asking for no change in insurance for 2012-2013 and to pay 13 percent in each of the next 3 years. They are asking for caps of $165 per month for 2013-14, $174 for 2014-15 and $182 for 2015-16 in family coverage. For single, they are asking for caps of $64 per month for 2013-14, $67 for 2014-15 and $70 for 2015-16.

Retirement:

– The board is offering to keep the 6 percent salary increase for teachers retiring in the next 4 years for this year, limit the perk to 3 years for teachers retiring in 2013-2014, to 2 years in 2014-2015, and end it in 2015-2016.

– Teachers rejected this offer but said they would agree to a phase-out if spouses are allowed on their insurance.

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