SUGAR GROVE – Hundreds of Kaneland Education Association (KEA) members and community supporters wore red and packed a special Kaneland Community School District 302 board meeting on Tuesday night.
The meeting was scheduled to discuss the district’s $2.7 million budget surplus.
The following statement is attributable to KEA chief negotiator Suzie Acksel:
We think it’s important the board recognizes part of the reason why the district has acquired this huge surplus is because of our teachers. For the past 10 years, KEA has done the right thing. The right thing by taking pay freezes when the district has needed us to. The right thing by ensuring any pay raises were sustainable and within the financial means of the district. The right thing by being willing to try new, innovative ideas in our classrooms. The right thing by caring for and nurturing our students as well as teaching them the state mandated objectives. The right thing by demanding during these negotiations that additional programs the board wants added, be done correctly and with a timeline that allows staff to be trained and not overworked. The right thing by requesting its members be fairly compensated for the extra workload and dedication to the district, yet is within the financial means of the district.
Now it’s the district’s turn to do the right thing. It was teacher pay freezes that helped the district dramatically increase its education fund surplus. That $2.7 million dollar surplus was accrued on the backs of our teachers. Those financial hits are lasting. They hurt our paychecks when we agreed to them and they will impact each and every one of our teachers’ lifetime earnings, which will follow them all the way into retirement. The district gained financial stability from our willingness to help solve their problems.
KEA has been more than fair for the past 10 years and during these negotiations. Now it’s the board’s turn to do the right thing.
KEA has 346 members who are teachers, social workers, psychologists, nurses and speech pathologists within the Kaneland School District. The district has six schools and serves 4,410 students from the communities of Sugar Grove, Elburn, Kaneville, Virgil, Maple Park, Montgomery, Aurora, Courtland and North Aurora. KEA has been negotiating with the district for more than seven months.
KEA’s contract expired on June 30. On May 22, KEA requested to begin mediation with the district. The next mediation is set for Thursday, July 11 at noon.
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.