MENDOTA – The Mendota Education Association (MEA) launched a hotline community members can use to call the District 289 Board of Education (BOE) at 1-844-311-3378. Callers will be greeted with a message from MEA Co-Vice President Brandon Scheppers and then the calls will be patched through to the district office. The MEA has been on strike since Wednesday.
“We are asking anyone who wants our students to be back in school and anyone who wants this strike to be over to call. We cannot get a fair contract if the board won’t come to the table. It’s that simple,” Scheppers said. “Through our mediator, we have learned the board is unwilling to bargain with us before Saturday. This needs to be a priority. We were available all day yesterday, are available again today and will continue to be ready to bargain every day until we get a contract.”
“I called the hotline because I support Mendota teachers,” Mendota parent Amanda Atherton said. “Making a phone call is the least I can do. We’re talking about the people who spend every day working with our children, helping them learn and grow. We need the board to get back to the table, so our teachers and students can get back to school.”
Community members have been sending messages of encouragement to MEA members and also have shown their support for MEA by bringing food and water to strike headquarters.
“We want to say thank you to our community for standing with us. This is an incredibly difficult situation, but having you all by our side makes it a bit easier,” Scheppers said. “We hope you’ll join us in urging the board to come to the table so we can end this.”
MEA is made up of 76 elementary members and 39 high school teachers from School District 280. Only the elementary teachers from District 289 are on strike. Their contract expired on Aug. 14, and they’ve been negotiating with the D289 BOE since March. District 289 serves 1,170 students and has three schools that are all closed today.
Some of the main issues that still need to be resolved at the bargaining table are as follows:
- Salary: The latest offers from the BOE and the MEA are only about $16,000 apart when it comes to salary. That’s less than a quarter of 1% of the district’s overall budget. On average, the MEA’s proposal equates to an additional $55 a week, per member.
- Health insurance: The BOE also wants to raise the cost of family health insurance. This would offset the cost of any salary increase afforded to MEA members.
- Plan time: MEA is asking the BOE to guarantee elementary teacher plan time. Our teachers are already working unpaid hours, and using their own personal time to plan. If MEA doesn’t preserve plan time, educators will have less time to prepare for individual students’ needs, less time to communicate with parents, less time to collaborate with other teachers and less time to prepare materials.
There are two bargaining sessions scheduled for this weekend. MEA and the BOE plan to meet on Saturday at 10 a.m. and, if needed, an additional bargaining session also is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. In addition on Sun., Oct. 20, MEA will be hosting a community rally before bargaining. Details will follow.
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.