Teachers to picket school board over contract
It's two weeks before the start of school in Evanston and District 65 teachers have no new contract -- so they will be out picketing before tonight's school board meeting.
Organizers of the protest are inviting community residents to join the teacher union members on the picket line. Protest organizer Saul Lieberman says the group will gather at 5:30 p.m. outside the school administration building at 1500 McDaniel Ave. and then wave their signs along nearby streets until the meeting begins at 7 p.m.
The board tonight is scheduled to give preliminary approval to its budget for the new school year, with final adoption planned to follow a public hearing next month.
The budget calls for total spending across all funds of $125 million and is balanced by drawing down fund reserves by nearly $18 million.
The budget anticipates that salary and benefit costs will total $87 million, a decline of 1 percent from last year.
Those reductions are accomplished by eliminating about 36 jobs and replacing 51 retiring employees with less-experienced new workers who will earn less.
The budget anticipates that a setlement with the teacher's union -- when it's finally reached -- will result in a 3.8 percent increase in the cost of employing the average teacher. That includes base salary and step pay increases as well as pay hikes based on completing additional continuing education.