Press Release

MURPHYSBORO– This evening the Murphysboro Education Association (MEA) declared a strike, which means teachers will not report to school starting Thurs., Oct. 3. The strike was declared shortly after tonight’s failed negotiation session with the Murphysboro School District 186 Board of Education (BOE).

“This is so unfortunate. Our hearts are with our students and their families, but we had to go on strike so we can continue to fight for what’s best for our community. The board showed us this evening they have no interest in finding common ground,” MEA Spokeswoman Lisa Shields said. “For us, this is about providing the best education possible for our students, but unfortunately, for the district, this is about power. It’s certainly not about money, despite what the board says, they have the money to do this.”

The last major issue that needs to be resolved at the bargaining table is the salary increase requested by MEA. Here are the facts about the district’s finances:

  • The district has the money to meet MEA’s requests without raising taxes.
  • District 186 has an educational fund surplus of $3.5 million.
  • MEA is asking for, on average, a salary increase of 3.7%, each year, for the life of the three-year contract.
  • During the past three years, because of Illinois’ new evidenced based funding model, the General Assembly has added nearly $1 billion dollars in additional funding for K-12 school districts, including Murphysboro.
    • Here are the additional funds District 186 has received during the past three years (please note this is on top of the regular levels of funding provided by the state):
      • 2017-2018: $844,576
      • 2018-2019: $615,999
      • 2019-2020: $532,224
      • Total: $1.99 million
  • Murphysboro District 186 is classified as a Tier 1 school by the Illinois State Board of Education, which means District 186 will be a priority district for future state funding.

“Superintendent Grode continually says he’s worried the state will stop providing funding to Murphysboro, which is absolutely ridiculous. It’s a scare tactic and it has no basis in reality,” Shields said. “And while Grode is focused on asserting control over the bargaining table, he’s lost sight of what’s important here, our students. We are losing teachers. Illinois is in the middle of a teacher shortage that’s reaching crisis levels.  And we if we don’t make our salaries competitive with our neighboring districts, we will continue to lose good, quality teachers. That means our students will suffer, our schools will suffer and so will our community.”

MEA and the BOE have been negotiating since March 2019. MEA’s current contract expired on Aug. 12, which means members are currently working without a contract. MEA includes 152 teachers, counselors, nurses and social workers in District 186. District 186 serves 2,047 students.

Currently, there are no mediation sessions scheduled for the BOE and MEA.

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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.