BOURBONNAIS – The Bourbonnais Education Association (BEA) will be hosting a rally today at 4:30 p.m. The BEA can legally go on strike as soon as this Fri., Feb. 19. Tonight, following the rally, the BEA has its last negotiation session with the Bourbonnais Elementary School District 53 Board of Education (BOD) before Feb. 19.
“Tonight’s negotiation session is extremely important. We are really hopeful the board will make some movement, and we can find common ground,” BEA President Lauren Lundmark said. “We are getting down to the wire here. We’ve been working without a contract since the beginning of the year, and we have several major issues that remain unresolved. We don’t want to go on strike, but we’ll do whatever it takes to fight for our students and their education.”
Key issues that need to be resolved at the table include common planning time for educators, competitive compensation for teachers, maintaining health and retirement benefits and returning to a step-and-lane salary structure.
“We know we are losing good, highly-qualified teachers to other districts that pay more than us. However, the board’s most recent offer means some of our educators would actually make less money under our new contract. That’s just unacceptable,” said Lundmark. “We should be thinking about what we can do to keep talented professionals in our district. Our students deserve the best. We need to invest in our future.”
BEA represents 167 teachers, speech pathologists, psychologists and social workers who serve more than 2400 students. The district and BEA began contract negotiations in March. BEA is currently working without a contract and has been since the beginning of the school year. The next bargaining session is tonight at 5:30 p.m.
Tonight’s rally begins at 4:30 p.m. Supporters will begin gathering at 4:15 p.m. in the parking lot behind the Circle K (655 N. Convent St., Bourbonnais). Anyone attending tonight’s socially-distanced rally is being asked to wear a mask and to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines. Negotiations begin at 7 p.m. and will be held virtually.
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.