Workers who come into Oak Park and River Forest High School while the village is in lockdown will be paid time-and-a-half. The District 200 board voted 6-1 on the compensation agreement with local unions at a March 19 board meeting. Board member Craig Iseli voted against the motion.

The pay increase applies to workers performing essential services at the high school — from maintenance workers making sure the campus is clean to the people preparing free and reduced meals for students to technology specialists fixing the Google Chromebooks that are essential for students to do online learning at home.

During Thursday’s meeting, which was conducted on a videoconferencing service, D200 Supt. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams said the extra pay will give essential workers an incentive to come into work even as many of their colleagues may be at home earning paid leave.

“We needed to have some type of incentive for people to come in versus them saying, ‘Well everyone else is getting paid to stay at home,'” the superintendent said. “So it was our way of incentivizing people to come in.”

Some board members said the added pay also acknowledges the additional health risks that some workers are taking on during the lockdown.

 “I feel it’s very fair and only reasonable to provide more compensation for those coming in,” said board member Matt Baron. 

“Individuals that come in are being exposed to additional risk from a health standpoint,” said board member Ralph Martire. “I think we should acknowledge that.”

On March 18, Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb declared a public state of emergency and issued a shelter-in-place order. On Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that he will implement a similar shelter in place order that applies across the state.

According to a previous Wednesday Journal report, “Under the shelter-in-place order, people are only allowed to leave their residences for ‘essential activities, essential governmental functions, or to operate essential businesses.'”

D200 board also votes to give Supt. Pruitt-Adams power to hire essential staff

During the March 19 meeting, the D200 school board also voted unanimously to give Supt. Pruitt-Adams the authority to hire essential staff and take other measures that are necessary to the functioning of the district. 

Pruitt-Adams said administrators first presented the measure to the board before Gov. J.B. Pritzker used his emergency powers to waive part of the Illinois Open Meetings Act, so that public bodies across the state can conduct their meetings remotely.

“When we first brought this forward, we had not had the authority yet to do a virtual meeting and this is just in case of an emergency, where we don’t have a quorum,” Pruitt-Adams said. “This gives me the authority to make sure that bills get paid.”

The superintendent said that now that the board can conduct virtual meetings, the emergency measure is not as necessary. Still, she said, the precaution may come into play if a quorum can’t be established because a majority of board members doesn’t call in.

“This only goes into effect if we can’t make a quorum of the board,” she said. Pruitt-Adams said that if she’s not available to make critical emergency decisions regarding essential hires and contracts, then the emergency authority will be passed to either Associate Supt. Greg Johnson or Roxana Sanders, D200’s HR director.

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