UPDATE (12/12/13): Dozens of North Boone teachers pick up their picket sticks and head to the district office with a message. They filed an intent to strike Thursday unless their demands are met. But in a state that keeps cutting education funding, negotiations might not pan out.
“We want a fair contract . This contract has been all about take-backs, charging more for different things, taking things away from us that had been given to us in the past and we want to put an end to the take-backs,” said Kelly Hanaman, President of the North Boone Education Association.
But no money makes demands hard to meet. A new survey out Thursday from the Illinois Lieutenant Governor's office says 65 percent of superintendents believe state funding for education is poor and in need of improvement.
“We need to put more dollars towards our primary and secondary education in addition to public universities,” said Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-69th District).
Sosnowski says the state is behind more than $8 million on it's bills, but says that's not why cuts to education funding keep getting deeper.
“It’s just a matter of reprioritizing our finances,” said Sosnowski. “We've take in more dollars than we ever have, it's just not being prioritized to schools.”
The lack of priorities has now left teachers like those in North Boone out in the cold.
The Board of Education issued a statement following the union's intent to strike notice:
"The Board is sensitive to the needs of students and parents to have as much advance notice as possible to plan for school closings. Should the NBEA chose to strike and close schools, the District will utilize
the NBCUSD.org website, School Messenger, Facebook and Twitter to alert parents as early as possible.
Please make sure that your school office has an accurate phone number(s) and e-mail address(es) so that we can keep you informed on a timely basis. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the district office. 815-765-3322."
POPLAR GROVE - The North Boone Education Association could go on strike very soon.
The group will hold a press conference Thursday outside of the district office. It's during that time NBEA President Kelly Hanaman will announce whether or not the union will go on strike.
"We are attempting to settle a fair agreement with our School Board" says Hanaman. "We are in our fourth session with a Federal Mediator... We remain optimistic, but are committed to do whatever is necessary to secure a fair contract for our members."
The NBEA represents 110 teachers in District 200, which educates 1,665 students.