The strike begins

District 300 teachers begin strike today
By Tara Garcia Mathewson

picket line

District 300 teachers walk the picket line Tuesday morning in Carpentersville outside school district headquarters. Photo by Chris Hankins.

Nearly 1,300 Community Unit District 300 teachers will be dressed in black and white on picket lines Tuesday on day one of the union’s first strike since 1972.

LEAD 300, the Carpentersville area district’s teachers union, declared the strike Monday afternoon when a day of negotiating — after 11 months of talks — failed to result in a new contract for teachers. The last contract expired July 1.

While union spokesman Mike Williamson said the major issues are class size and compensation, board of education member and district spokesman Joe Stevens said it all comes down to salary.

Stevens said the board agreed to LEAD 300’s proposal to reduce class sizes and set caps for middle and high school classes. But Williamson said the cap the board proposed was too high.

The district has average class sizes set for middle and high schools but no caps. Teachers get paid more if the class size reaches a certain number of students, but the contract does not prohibit it. Williamson, a teacher whose paycheck has benefited from overload pay, said the money is not worth it.

“What’s worth it is having a class that you can actually manage, where you can actually work with individual students,” Williamson said.

Stevens pointed to class sizes the union proposed early Monday that the board would have approved in referencing an agreement, but those class sizes were tied to a salary proposal the board rejected, which Williamson said made the first point moot. Williamson said teachers would need far lower class sizes to make up for less compensation and the district wasn’t willing to agree to both parts of the issue.

Read the full article here.

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