QPS union says accounting error cost district $500,000 - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

QPS union says accounting error cost district $500,000

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QPS Board President Sayeed Ali (left) and Quincy Federation teacher subgroup president Jen Drew. QPS Board President Sayeed Ali (left) and Quincy Federation teacher subgroup president Jen Drew.

An accounting error regarding insurance made by Quincy Public Schools was revealed during Wednesday night's contract negotiations, according to a union official.

Quincy Federation teacher subgroup president Jen Drew said QPS revealed inaccurate numbers were submitted by the district when it bid for new health insurance benefits last year. She said the numbers the district used showed a 3 percent increase, but it was actually 8 percent.

"It's a $500,000 error," Drew said. "That's what unraveled things. That's why they went backwards on their offer."

Drew said the union also learned more about the district's proposal. 

"When we met with the mediator last time, the verbal proposal was that they would give us our step increase," Drew said. "What they came back with last night is that they're no longer offering the step. They're going backwards. They're only offering .81 percent of the step."

Drew also clarified where the district's proposal of a 1.39 percent increase came from.

"What they're figuring that on is .81 percent of our step," Drew said. "So a step for teachers might be two percent. So they figured .81 percent of that is 1.2. So that's how they made up those numbers on that page to make it look like they're offering us 1.39 percent when they're really just offering us .81 percent of our step."

"It's misleading," Drew added.

The union is asking for a 1.45 percent increase plus step for all union employees. Drew said both sides tried to come up with solutions during Wednesday's meeting. 

"We did make progress on language issues which was great, but the (insurance) thing was a bit of a shock," Drew said. "We spent several hours trying to come up with creative solutions where we could still get our employees a raise because we're paying more for insurance and we keep going backwards on the salary, basically."

The latest developments come just days before a potential strike date of Jan. 13.

"We're hoping we can still make some progress," Drew said. "We asked the board last night to present us with a more formal offer next week on Tuesday in written form on the language as well as what there financial offer would be.  Last night was just a lot of discussion. There weren't any formal offers presented across the table."

Drew said the union asked the entire board to come to next Tuesday's scheduled negotiating meeting.

"I don't know if they'll do that or not," Drew said. "We want the whole board to be there so if any financial decisions need to be made quickly they can be made without saying 'We have to go back and talk to the board and come back and talk to you again' because we're getting close to that time crunch."

QPS Superintendent Roy Webb and board president Sayeed Ali declined interviews about the insurance mistake. Webb said on the phone that an error was made, but he would not answer any additional questions.

You can read our story on details in the proposals posted by the Illinois Education Relations Labor Board here. You can also look at the posted documents below.

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