BENSENVILLE – Dozens of Fenton High School teachers and community members plan to call on the school board to wrap up contract negotiations at the Fenton Community High School (FCHS) District 100 Board meeting this evening.
The Fenton Education Association (Fenton EA) has been bargaining a new contract with FCHS District 100 since February. They entered federal mediation in August. Fenton teachers are currently working without a contract.
“I think it is important to acknowledge how critical this situation is becoming. Nobody wants a strike. Our teachers want to be in class working with their students. Fenton students want to be in the building learning and growing. Our school board was elected by our community to make sure that happens. This is the most important thing we all agree on: our students are our top priority. We need the board to correct the course of negotiations before it is too late,” Fenton EA President Patrick Escobedo said.
Fenton EA represents the 113 teachers, counselors, clinicians and other education professionals serving the nearly 1500 students in FCHS District 100.
There are still several sticking points that have not been resolved, including:
- Bison Orange (Early Intervention Program):
The district wants to drastically cut the Bison Orange program, which is a tier two intervention program for struggling students. Fenton EA is proposing to expand the program and is asking the district to commit to running the program for the next several years.
- Plan time:
Despite a previous agreement relating to internal subbing, the Board’s last proposal demands that teachers give up hundreds of hours of their planning time to internal sub without compensation, which is the time teachers use to communicate with parents, meet with students and colleagues, prepare lesson plans and grade papers. Plan time is particularly important to the special education program, where teachers spend additional hours working on individualized education programs (IEPs) for students with special needs.
- Class size:
Fenton EA is asking for limits on class sizes. There are more than 100 classes that are either at capacity or above. Overflowing classrooms mean one-on-one time is severely limited and sometimes not possible.
- Support for teacher-led committees:
The district is refusing to support committees that meet after school and is looking to dismantle any leadership roles teachers have with their students and other staff.
“We are struggling to find common ground on several important issues that have a direct impact on our students’ education. It is our priority to make sure we can continue to provide a high-quality, public education to all of our students, including those that need a little extra help,” Escobedo said. “It’s a little surreal to be going to a board meeting, asking the board members to put our students first. After all, that’s what they’re elected to do. When they take the school board oath, they pledge to be here for our students, and we’re here to make sure they do.”
Fenton EA members and community members will pack the District 100 School Board meeting tonight, Wed., Aug. 23. The educators are planning to wear their Fenton EA shirts and are asking community members to wear red for ed. The board meeting is at 7 p.m. at Fenton High School (1000 W. Green St., Bensenville).
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.