Press Release

MURPHYSBORO– Video clips from Murphysboro School District 186 Board of Education (BOE) meetings contradict recent public statements made by Superintendent Chris Grode and financial information provided by business manager Jan Bush.

The public statements come while the Murphysboro Education Association (MEA) is out on strike. MEA represents educators in District 186. MEA has been on strike since Thurs., Oct.3.

“Our community needs to know the truth. We all deserve the truth. Superintendent Grode comes up with new excuses about why the district doesn’t have the funds to pay, just as often as our students do when they haven’t done their homework. The next thing we know, Grode will tell us the dog ate our funding,” MEA Chief Negotiator Catlin Langellier said. “He needs to be held accountable for his actions, just as our students are.”

Grode and Bush have continually asserted the state’s funding for District 186 is unreliable. A recent article from The Southern Illinoisan reads, “According to Grode, the district’s cautious position on salaries is partly about uncertainty at the state level.”

However, as seen in this board meeting video from Aug. 20. Bush and Grode both acknowledge the district has the money.

During the meeting, Bush can be heard talking about past financial hardships, saying, “Hopefully, we won’t be back in that situation again. The new funding formula will take care of those things.”

In that same meeting, Grode acknowledges the district has received over a half a million dollars, year after year, in new state aid through the evidenced based funding model.

More recently, in statements made to The Southern Illinoisan, Grode also falsely claimed the district cannot use the evidenced based state funding District 186 receives to raise educators’ salaries.

That information is also untrue. According to Illinois’ evidenced based funding law, the money can be spent on teachers. Under General Provisions, Section A, the law reads as follows:

“An Organizational Unit [any public school district as defined by the Illinois State Board of Education] receiving any funding under this Section may apply those funds to any fund so received for which that Organizational Unit is authorized to make expenditures by law.”

“For Grode, this is all about power. The facts don’t lie. The money is there. It’s not about money,” Langellier said. “It’s clear the board doesn’t have confidence in him. They chose not to renew his contract. He’s leaving at the end of the year. This is not a game. This is people’s lives and our students’ futures. Our community needs to stand up and tell him to end this now.”

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.

The next mediation session between the BOE and MEA is set for tonight at 5 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend a prayer vigil at Town Center Park (1850 Walnut St., Murphysboro) at 5:15 to pray for our students.

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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.