By Ben Velderman
CARPENTERSVILLE, IL. – The 20,000 students in Illinois’ Community Unit District 300 might not be spending much time in class this month.
The school district’s nearly 1,200 teachers went on strike this morning to protest the lack of a new contract, reports the Chicago Tribune. It’s unknown how long the strike will last, but only a handful of days remain before the state’s sixth-largest school district closes down for the Christmas season.
The walkout comes after district and union officials failed to reach an agreement, despite meeting for nine hours on Monday.
Based on news reports, it appears as though the union was determined to walk out, regardless of what the school board offered.
According to a statement on the district’s website, the Carpentersville school board has agreed to the union’s demands to reduce class sizes, even though that move would require the district to hire about 60 new teachers and increase spending by $15 million over the course of the three-year deal.
That’s money the district doesn’t have, which means the board would be forced to run a deficit just to keep union members happy. That financial situation could get even worse, depending on what state lawmakers finally decide to do about teacher pension contributions and state K-12 funding levels.
The board also agreed with the union’s demands regarding staff recall rights, the district’s bullying policy, and the number of students in lab-based classrooms.
When board members thought a deal might be reached, the union “then increased its salary proposal by returning to an earlier salary request,” according to the district’s website.
Board members are prepared to award annual pay raises averaging 2.67 percent – plus annual step raises – but union members apparently want more money.
The Tribune notes that a number of Illinois’ suburban teacher unions have gone on strike so far this year. Perhaps they’ve been emboldened by the radical Chicago Teachers Union, which waged a very ugly strike in September.
Most of these strikes last between one day and a week, the Tribune writes.
If the District 300 strike lasts a week, it will leave students with about a week-and-a-half of instruction before the district breaks for the holiday season. If it runs any longer than a week, the month of December could be a complete washout for Carpentersville students.
Taxpayers should know that the disruption and chaos are brought to them courtesy of their local teachers union which professes to care so much about students and the quality of public education.
There’s no education happening in Carpentersville today. That’s an accurate illustration of the union’s commitment to students.