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D-300 and its teachers union prepare for strike

CARPENTERSVILLE – Union leaders at District 300 have started planning for a strike and the administration has released a contingency outline if teachers walk out.

No date has been set, but the district’s union, LEAD 300, formally filed a strike notice with the district and Regional Board of Education earlier this week. Union President Kollen Hanetho said the notice was required paperwork because LEAD 300 declared an official impasse in negotiations Nov. 5.

LEAD’s 1,300 members, Hanetho said, still are committed to bargaining with the district. But she said the last two meetings with the district board – Sunday and Tuesday – didn’t produce significant movement toward a deal.

Hanetho said the union has created “the infrastructure” to go on strike, creating contact lists, assigning duties to members and selecting building captains.

“We haven’t selected a date which we will go out,” Hanetho said. “We are hoping the board will work with us and a strike won’t be a reality.”

The earliest district teachers can go on strike is Dec. 4. The official declaration of an impasse gave the union roughly a month to bargain with the board before the option of going on strike. Teachers overwhelming granted the LEAD 30 the authority to call a strike last month.

The two sides will meet again Tuesday for negotiations.

Hanetho said she was “still hopeful” but not confident of a deal before early December, based on the most recent meetings. The two sides have disagreed on a litany of issues, but mainly how to pay for additional teachers to reduce class sizes.

She said she hopes the district negotiators understand “there needs to be some middle ground movement at this point.”

Board member Joe Stevens, a lead district negotiator and spokesman, did not respond to calls for comment Wednesday. But Superintendent Michael Bregy posted a statement on the district’s website advising parents on school closings in the event of a strike.

All school-sponsored activities would be canceled and the majority of the district’s 29 schools, from kindergarten through 12th grade, would be closed. The district, with community support, would operate emergency shelters so that some students from kindergarten through sixth grade receive adult supervision, Bregy said.

“It is our sincere hope that a strike can be averted,” Bregy said. “Throughout negotiations, the district has been and continues to be committed to fairly compensate LEAD 300 membership, while honoring the board’s commitment to living within its revenue stream.”

More information on the emergency shelters are expected to be released within the week.

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