There’s a possibility that Naperville School District 203 teachers could strike if a settlement isn’t reached between the union that represents them and the school district before the first day of school.
Discussion between the board of education and Naperville Unit Education Association (NUEA), who represents 1,500 District 203 educators, has been going on since January. Last month, an independent federal mediator was brought in to help both sides reach an agreement.
Teachers’ contracts expired on June 30. According to a District 203 post, “it is common for teachers to return to the classroom without disruption after a contract has expired.” However, NUEA responded with their own post.
“The NUEA does not intend to return to school on August 19 without a settled agreement,” said NUEA. “This message has been clearly and consistently communicated to the Board since January, and at every negotiation since the 1970’s.”
This could mean a potential strike if an agreement isn’t reached before the first day of school on August 19.
What is the Union Asking For?
NUEA said there are currently two issues preventing an agreement between both sides, FMLA and salary. NUEA said they would like to use additional accumulated sick days and apply them toward more parental leave.
NUEA is also asking for a salary increase for teachers because of the district’s Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). MTSS is “responsive and fluid high-quality curriculum and instruction focused on academic and social-emotional learning, including interventions and extensions to ensure the success of all learners.” NUEA said MTSS is beneficial for students, but requires more planning for teachers which is why they are asking to be paid more for it.
On August 2, over 500 students, parents, union members, and members from other teachers unions walked from Naperville North High School to Washington Junior High School in red shirts in support of teachers ahead of that night’s board of education meeting.
District 203 Board Proposal
At the August 2 board of education meeting board president Kristin Fitzgerald provided some highlights from the board’s current proposal. These include an increase of sick days in the first year from 15 to 20, accrue five more unused sick days, increase of paid time off for non-medical parental leave from 30 to 35 days, and raises for every educator every year.
District 203 said their three main priorities are to continue to deliver “excellent education” to students, competitively compensate teachers, and ensure the agreement is “fiscally responsible and allows the board to preserve the long-term financial health” of the district.
“The board is committed to continuing negotiations with the NUEA throughout the public posting process and until a fair settlement is reached,” said District 203 in the post.
The next mediation session between NUEA and the district is scheduled for August 9.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.
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