Hundreds of teachers, students, and Naperville Unit Education Association members rallied yesterday ahead of Naperville School District 203’s board meeting. The group started at Naperville North, then walked to Washington Junior High School where the meeting was held to encourage the school board to reach an agreement with the teacher’s union.
The two main issues preventing an agreement are salary and FMLA. “All we want is the ability to use the maximum amount of our 12 weeks of our FMLA time, using our accumulated sick days with a newborn or newly adopted child. That’s it,” said Dan Iverson, president of NUEA.
NUEA, which represents 1,500 District 203 educators, asked for a salary increase at the NUEA rally because of the district’s Multi-Tiered System of Support. MTSS requires more planning for teachers. “Teaching is neither a hobby nor charity work,” said District 203 parent Lynn Gosselin. “Teachers are professionals and they deserve to be paid for all of their labor.”
District 203 Proposal
At the meeting, board President Kristin Fitzgerald shared some highlights from the board’s most recent proposal.
“The board enhanced our proposal by offering to provide all full-time District 203 educators with a one-time appreciation payment to be paid within 30 days of contract approval. Payments will also be made to part-time educators and prorated accordingly,” said Fitzgerald. “This offer sits on top of our existing salary proposal which provides raises for every educator during every year of the proposed four year contract.”
She also said the district is now proposing to provide up to eight weeks of paid sick leave for non-medical purposes in addition to earned sick leave that is provided to medically recover from childbirth.
Teachers’ contracts expired on June 30 and they have begun working under an expired contract while negotiations continue. “Our educators have gone above and beyond in these very difficult times and we greatly appreciate their contributions to keeping our students learning, growing, and safe,” said Fitzgerald.
NUEA has filed an intent to strike, and could do so as early as August 25. NUEA and the board have been in negotiations since January. An independent federal mediator was brought in last month.
Iverson said there was good discussion and some “positive momentum” at today’s mediation session. The next session is scheduled for tomorrow. Both sides said they are willing to meet as many times as needed to reach an agreement.
“Nobody wants this to go farther. Nobody wants this to continue on,” said Iverson. “We as educators want some certainty for our contract as we move into this most challenging of years.”
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.
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