The teachers and paraprofessionals of CUSD #205 and Knox/Warren Special Education met tonight to discuss the status of negotiations. After approximately an hour of presentations and a few questions, a motion was made and passed overwhelmingly to file an “intent to strike notice” with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. Filing the intent to strike notice is part of the legal procedures required for public employees to engage in a lawful strike. If an agreement isn’t reached by 1:00 PM on August 12th, 2014, we believe the parents of the students of District 205 and those in outer lying Districts serviced by Knox/Warren Special Education will likely need to make other arrangements.
It is with the deepest regret and frustration that the teachers and Paraprofessionals had to take this action. We believe we have been forced to do so by a school board that is unwilling to compromise and engage in good faith talks that will lead to a fair agreement.
Despite the 205 board’s attempt to make this about money, the reality is most of the outstanding issues are not related to compensation or finances. Issues of safety, discipline, number of days and hours worked, early dismissal days, and recall rights still remain unaddressed by the board.
Despite the 205 Board’s claims of financial woes their actions continue to demonstrate just the opposite. They claim this week’s ever changing “deficit” number is $2.7 Million. They continue to only propose to the community to fill the gap on the backs of the people who are actually in the classrooms or on the families of students. Cuts to our income and higher registration fees for students will cut into the community’s ability to spend money at local businesses. All this while the Board continues to offer some non-teaching employees lavish 100% Board paid retirement benefits totaling about a half a million dollars a year. They’ve spent $1.1 Million on computers and network up-grades, hired additional administrative positions paying over $120,000 a year in salary plus benefits and spent around $60,000 on new activity buses.
This Board has declined additional tax dollars and federal money as they layoff teaching positions and closed a school. This Board refuses to publicly admit to the mismanagement of the penny sales tax and the mistakes made in the construction of a $16 Million dollar stadium build instead of repairing all of our crumbling schools. This Board hides behind half-truths on how money is able to be spent but always manages to find money for their “pet projects”.
The professional employees of this school district are dedicated to the children, students, parents and community. No one wants to strike. The school board is proposing deep cuts in benefits – cuts that are unnecessary and will lead to a school district that is less competitive for quality employees.
Quality Teachers = Quality Education
We believe the priorities of this Board are not that of the community and educators.