Home / News / Officials say teachers are deadlocked in stopping districtwide cuts in Hammond – Chicago Tribune

Officials say teachers are deadlocked in stopping districtwide cuts in Hammond – Chicago Tribune

Hammond School City officials say the ongoing impasse in collective bargaining talks with the Hammond Federation of Teachers is complicating and delaying other cost-cutting measures needed to meet the state-ordered corrective action plan to close the budget shortfall.

The district issued a press release this week following a Feb. 26 meeting with the state Nuisance Unit Appeals Board, which monitors school districts’ finances.

Since the impasse with teachers, a state-appointed mediator has been overseeing the talks. Teachers rejected the proposal on December 22. On Dec. 27, the union filed a complaint against the district for unfair labor practices.

In November, DUAB issued an order requiring cuts across the board after voters failed to renew an operational referendum that would have brought $15 million a year to the district.

The district submitted a corrective action plan to DUAB, but said the state agency required the plan to remain confidential under state law because “numerous factors may come into play that may affect the timing and necessity of various actions.”

DUAB general manager Pete Miller said his goal is to intervene early enough so that no district is left unable to pay its bills. He said DUAB did not dictate any specific cuts to the regions.

The publication detailed the factors that led to the emergence of the fiscal deficit:

· Increasing health insurance costs in the last two years. Because the bargaining agreement caps teachers’ contributions, the school district is covering the remaining cost, resulting in an additional $5 million in expenses in the 2023-24 school year.

· The 11.4% base salary increase for teachers in 2021 cost $7.6 million, and the additional 3.2% increase in 2022 cost $2.4 million.

· From 2019-20 to 2023-24, 1,581 students were denied registration, resulting in a loss of $12.5 million.

· Failure to renew the referendum by the voters cost the region 15 million dollars annually.

The press release addressed a lot of misinformation circulating in the community and responded to it with a “frequently asked questions” section on the district’s website. hammond.k12.in.us.

Louis Gikas, president of the Hammond Teachers Union, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

An FAQ asks whether another referendum is being considered, and the district says it needs 500 signatures to place another referendum on the fall ballot. This decision will be made by the school administration.

The district also will open 41 Williams St. after this school year. He also stated that he plans to close the management center at . Possible locations Columbia, 1238 Michigan St. Welcome Center at or the Hammond Area Career Center at 5727 Sohl Ave.

Officials said that once the decision to close schools is finalized, it will be put on the agenda of the board meeting and voted on by the public.

Carole Carlson is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

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