District 300 teachers on strike, 20K students affected - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

District 300 teachers on strike, 20K students affected

Posted: Updated:
ALGONQUIN, Ill. (FOX 32 News) -

UPDATE: The teachers strike in District 300 is ends after an agreement was reached late Tuesday.

20,000 students stayed home from school in the northwest suburbs Tuesday morning. Despite help from a federal mediator, District 300 teachers and officials could not reach a deal.

The strike affects eight communities and 27 schools in four counties.

The Local Education Association of District 300 announced a strike Monday night, after contract talks broke down with district officials. There was much back and forth during the day between the union and the school board, but they could not come to an agreement.

The announcement came just before 5 p.m. Monday on the teachers union's Facebook page.

District officials said only the three middle schools will remain open as emergency attendance centers for students in kindergarten through sixth grade who have no where else to go.

The teachers union said the major sticking points are smaller class sizes, higher pay to be more competitive with surrounding districts and improving the learning and work environment for both students and teachers.

"We began this morning by informing the Board's team that our members had rejected their final offer. We hoped they would realize this meant our members needed the Board to make significant movement in order for us to ratify a contract," LEAD spokesman Mike Williamson said in a written statement on Monday.

Discussions between the district and union had started at 8 a.m. Monday as the clock wound down on the last day before teachers in the Carpentersville-area district could walk out. And by noon, according to an earlier update on the Local Education Association of District 300 Facebook page, the school board was working on a new set of proposals.

District 300 had updated its website at about 2 p.m. Monday to confirm the "collective bargaining session is still in progress."

That update said the district would update d300.org, as well as contact district families and staff by phone and email, as more information becomes available.

That came after the union bargaining team shared with the school board negotiators the results of Sunday's all-member meeting, at which Williamson said 95 percent of the district's more than 1,100 teachers said they would not agree to the board's last proposal if it was brought to a vote.

"We were then asked to present them with what our members would find acceptable in relation to major areas of contention," according to the LEAD 300 Facebook page.

During the all-day negotiations Monday, Williamson said the school board did come down on class size, "but not to a level that the membership feels is acceptable."

"They refused to compensate people who are teaching additional classes as a result of an overhasty movement to an eight-period-day schedule (this school year) at the high school level," he said.

The LEAD spokesman said the union team had given the school board the "opportunity to avoid a strike" and invited its bargaining team to reconvene up to 9 p.m. Monday, which it rejected.

Both teams meet Tuesday to continue negotiations and as of 7 p.m., talks were still ongoing.

If the strike continues, both sides are expected back as early as 7 a.m. Wednesday.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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