DeKALB – More than 400 DeKalb School District 428 teachers will strike Thursday if they don’t reach an agreement with district leaders by Tuesday night, teachers union leaders said.
District and union leaders have scheduled negotiation sessions with a federal mediator today, Saturday and Sunday, said T.J. Fontana, spokesman for the DeKalb Classroom Teachers Association.
Based on legal timeframes, Thursday is the earliest teachers can walk out. Teacher in-service days are scheduled Monday and Tuesday and the first day of school for students is Wednesday, Fontana said.
“As educators, parents and community members, the members of the DCTA understand how a strike could impact the families of our school district,” union leaders said in a news release. “This is why we wanted to give the public as much advance notice as possible. We pledge to continue to negotiate in good faith with the board until that time and to do everything possible to avoid this situation altogether.”
District leaders echoed the sentiment in a news release of their own.
“The DeKalb Board of Education has been negotiating in good faith with the DeKalb Classroom Teachers Association and will continue to negotiate in good faith until a collective bargaining agreement is reached,” the district’s news release states. “The Board of Education is hopeful and optimistic that an agreement can be reached before the school year begins.”
The teachers union members determined the strike timeline Wednesday night, Fontana said.
Fontana said leaders for both sides have continued to negotiate since they filed their final offers Aug. 8.
In its final offer, the union asked for a 2.12 percent “step” increase in teachers’ salaries for the 2013-14 school year with no increase in the wage scale. In years two and three, teachers want their step increase, plus an increase in the pay scale to be determined by the average of two years’ of the consumer price index.
The wage scale would not be increased for teachers with a master’s degree in 2014-15.
The district’s offer includes a pay freeze for teachers in the first year of the contract, with a 2.89 percent raise in the second and third years.
An apparent disagreement outlined in the final offers involved adding 45 more minutes before and after the school day so that teachers, instead of teacher aides, can assist with bus operations. In the paperwork, district officials said this would increase safety, but the teachers said it would take away from one-on-one student time.
Fontana declined to detail what sticking points remained in the negotiations, but said he was hopeful talks would be fruitful this weekend.
“We’re trying to update people as much as we can via our Facebook page,” Fontana said. “I would also anticipate that the district would post that information on their website and through the automatic phone system.”
District leaders directed community members to their website at dist428.org. The union’s Facebook page is www.facebook.com/DeKalbDCTA.
On the Web
Details about both sides’ final offers: www2.illinois.gov/elrb
District website: www.dist428.org
Union Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DeKalbDCTA