CRYSTAL LAKE – The Crystal Lake Association of Support Staff (CLASS) plans to file an unfair labor practice (ULP) with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) after Community Unit School District 47 administrators violated the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (IELRA) and illegally retained a recruiting firm to hire temporary employees. CLASS members also will attend the District 47 Board of Education (BOE) meeting tonight and call for the administration to be held accountable.
“This really speaks to the severity of the support staff, teacher and substitute teacher shortage. We cannot find enough talented professionals to work in our schools. This crisis has been looming for years, and instead of coming up with thoughtful, long-term solutions to address these issues, the district administration opted to wait to the last minute and use taxpayer dollars to bring in temporary help who aren’t committed to our students and our community,” CLASS President Stephanie Lieurance said. “Our students deserve the best. And instead of figuring out how to keep the hardworking, experienced staff members we do have and bring in new talented recruits, they chose to take a shortcut and shortchange our students and their education.”
The union recently learned district administrators hired a staffing agency to fill open positions. The agency will earn up to $65 for every hour a temporary employee works. That’s more than four times as much as newly-hired, permanent paraprofessionals make. The staffing agency is charged with finding temporary paraprofessionals to fill the 21 open positions in the district. Paraprofessionals assist students and teachers both inside and outside of the classroom. They often work with the most vulnerable students, including those with special needs and behavioral issues. Hiring a firm to recruit temporary employees without bargaining first is a direct violation of the IELRA and the Illinois School Code.
“We have tried to work with the district multiple times on these hiring issues. We care deeply about our students and our community. However, District 47 continues to pay our paraprofessionals less than many of our neighboring districts, like Prairie Grove School District 46 and Community High School District 155,” Lieurance said. “We are constantly reminded by District 47 administrators that due to budgetary constraints; wage increases for new hires and current employees cannot be sustained. They are now seeing the consequences of their own decisions.”
CLASS represents more than 100 paraprofessionals who serve the nearly 7,000 students who attend the 12 schools in District 47.
Lieurance will be attending District 47’s BOE meeting and plans to make a statement. The meeting is tonight at 7 p.m. at the Crystal Lake Elementary Building (47 CORE Center, 300 Commerce Dr, Crystal Lake).
At 135,000 members strong, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) is the largest union in Illinois. The IEA represents PreK-12 teachers outside the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty and support staff, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.