By Terry Dean
District 97's new superintendent last month made a formal request to the faculty union to consider a pay freeze as the district tries to plug the deficit hole in its budget. He is still awaiting a formal response.
Chris Jasculca, the district's communication coordinator, said on Monday there was nothing new to report on talks between the district and Oak Park Teachers Association (OPTA). The district last month would not confirm if a request had been made, but sources close to the district confirmed to Wednesday Journal that it had and that the district was awaiting a response from the union.
Sue Tresselt, president of OPTA, did release a statement through the district, in part stating that the union was open to helping the district address its financial situation. She did not address the pay freeze request, saying instead, "All discussions related to our bargaining agreement with the district are confidential."
A faculty pay freeze would require the current five-year contract — originally signed in 2008 and ending in 2013 — to be reopened and amended. The district, meanwhile, will pursue a $75 million working cash referendum in the April 5 election to plug a $6 million deficit.