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Showing Solidarity, More District 97 Unions Accept Pay Freeze

Teacher assistants and support staff give OK to wage freeze for next year.

Support professionals and teacher assistants in Oak Park Elementary District 97 have accepted a wage freeze for next year, aligning themselves with teacher’s union which accepted a pay freeze earlier this year.

The move is aimed to show a unified message of sacrifice by District 97 employees leading up to an April 5 , which aims to fix with a tax increase a near $6 million budget gap annually.

The 56-member Oak Park Educational Support Professionals Association (OPESPA) and 105-member Oak Park Teacher Assistants’ Association (OPTAA) both announced Friday they will freeze the wages of their memberships for the 2011-2012 school year, saving District 97 nearly $200,000.

The Oak Park Teachers’ Association already  over the next year, saving $1 million.  District administrators also agreed to wage freezes in January .

Together, the concessions total an estimated savings of $1.3 million next year.

The salary moves by the OPESPA and OPTAA — the district’s other labor groups — will be enacted regardless of whether or not the referendum passes.

If a referendum fails, District 97 has already outlined . But the wage freezes OK’d by the unions would help save some of those program and staff cuts, said Supt. Al Roberts.

The OPESPA — comprised of secretaries, technology specialists, media assistants, receptionists, and administrative assistants — voted with 83 percent supporting the measure.

“What could have been a difficult conversation was handled courteously and with dignity by all present. It certainly felt like we all wanted the same thing – the best for our students first, and for the staff of District 97 as well,” according to a statement issued by the OPESP.

The OPTAA had 90 percent support from its members.

“We want to help the district keep the cuts to programs and jobs to a minimum, and hope that our wage freeze will make a difference,” said OPTAA President Monica Madan.

Roberts and Board of Education President Peter Traczyk sent out a joint statement praising the latest wage freezes.

Jassen Strokosch February 23, 2011 at 01:28 AM
Thanks OPTAA and OPESP. We appreciate the commitment to the school district.

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