The Oak Park Teachers’ Association (OPTA) has faced some very difficult challenges over the last sevenweeks. On December 6, 2010, Dr. Roberts approached the Education Council Representatives and requestedthat all members of the OPTA consider a “wage freeze” for the 2011-2012 school year.We collected related financial information, worked with the Illinois Education Association (IEA) to completean independent financial analysis, gathered thoughts, questions, and concerns from the OPTA members,engaged in negotiations with the administration and members of the Board of Education, and, most importantly,disseminated crucially important facts and data our OPTA members could use to make an informed decisionregarding Dr. Roberts’ request.Dr. Roberts acknowledged that he was reluctant to ask the OPTA to consider a “wage freeze,” but believedacceptance of this request will save the district a significant amount of money during these challengingeconomic times, and will help preserve the quality of the education we offer the children of Oak Park.Personally, I am completely compassionate toward, and understanding of, the fact that the current climatewithin the OPTA, within District 97, within the state of Illinois, and within education in general is very tense,uncomfortable and filled with uncertainty. I want to thank the OPTA members who have invested time, effort,and energy to thoroughly study this issue. I also want to thank the IEA for its guidance leading up to ourdecision. In addition, I want to thank the administration and the Board of Education for their commitment tomaintaining a productive, collaborative relationship with the OPTA.With that being said, I am here to announce that today, Tuesday, January 25, 2011 our OPTA members voted toaccept Dr. Roberts’ request for a one-year “wage freeze.”The results of the vote were:
439 OPTA members voted
72 percent voted in acceptance of the request
28 percent voted in opposition of the requestThis “wage freeze” for the 2011-2012 school year will save District 97 more than $1 million.The agreement to freeze wages follows a school board decision to cut $5.7 million from the district budget forthe 2011-2012 year. The OPTA is now in a position to help save approximately 25 percent of that amount.The OPTA members decided to accept a freeze to avoid cuts to teaching positions and programs that wouldhave a devastating impact on students, the district, and the Oak Park community.Members of the OPTA believe this wage freeze now makes it possible for the district to reduce the previouslyapproved reductions in staff and programs and allow students to continue to enjoy access to a high-qualityeducation.I hope that the administration and the members of the Board of Education acknowledge that the vote for andacceptance of the “wage freeze” is a real sacrifice for the members of our organization. The OPTA membershave shown that they are truly committed and dedicated to the work and the life of this district.