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home : news : north central illinois   May 24, 2016

1/10/2014 9:40:00 AM
Mendota Grade School teachers to strike Monday


Tamara Abbey
Mendota Bureau Chief



MENDOTA — A dispute over insurance and the definition of a work day will lead to a strike at Mendota’s grade schools starting Monday.

All elementary schools will be closed Monday and all extracurricular activities are canceled.

Donna Arjes of Mendota has four children, one in each of Mendota’s schools. When the kids left for school this morning, they had not received the official word yet but they knew it was likely.

“The kids — they’re all about it,” she said. “They don’t think about making the end of school longer.”

Teachers and the board progressed from negotiation meetings to federally mediated meetings that failed to resolve the dispute. According to superintendent Kristen School, teachers elected to strike following the latest mediation on Thursday night. Teachers officially voted to strike in September 2013 but continued negotiations through the end of the year.

A statement from the Board of Education posted at www.mendota289.org encourages parents to yet again make alternate arrangements for students. Schools just reopened Wednesday after severe weather extended the holiday break by two days.

Arjes now has to come up with at least one more day of activities for her kids while they are home from school.

“We encourage you to begin making arrangements for your children’s care, and we truly hope that this situation can be solved quickly and amicably,” according to the board statement.

For many parents, that means finding emergency daycare. Other parents, including Jennifer Skaggs who has an 11-year-old at Northbrook, has a little more security. Skaggs’ husband is a stay-at-home dad.

“I got the call this morning so I know (about the strike),” she said.

Along with the district website, parents  also can expect regular updates through the reverse call system that notifies parents about upcoming activities, school closures and emergency notifications.

Parents can also check the Mendota Education Association website at mendota289.wix.com/mendota289 for updates.

Both sides’ final offers posted at the State of Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board website (http://www2.illinois.gov/elrb/pages/finaloffers.aspx) offer details of the contract offered by the board and the counter-offer by the MEA.

The board wants teachers to pay a percentage of the health insurance cost rather than a fixed dollar amount. The board also requests staff to attend faculty meetings that are scheduled with a two-week advance notice. Teachers are to attend the meetings until they conclude.

The MEA seeks to limit faculty meetings to one per month and have them conclude by 3:25 p.m.

A press release by the MEA states:

“Accepting less than a fair contract will compromise working conditions for teachers currently employed and affects the ability of the district to attract and retain qualified teachers in the future which, in turn, negatively impacts our students.”

In the meantime, Arjes said she will pray for a speedy resolution.

“Taking sides is hard,” she said. “I can see both sides.

“My solution right now is to pray for them and hope they come to an agreement in a short time.”

Tamara Abbey can be reached at (815) 539-5200 or mendota@newstrib.com








Related Stories:
• Mendota teachers, board get creative, settle contract





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