Huntley teachers hold off on walkout

August 22, 2008 3:58:52 PM PDT
After weeks of negotiations, teachers in northwest suburban Huntley will be headed back to class next week without a new contract. The teachers agreed Friday to hold off on a walkout that would have disrupted the education of thousands of students. This school district includes students from Lake in the Hills, Algonquin and Huntley. While the teachers union has authorized a strike, at this point, they say they will give the district at least 48 hours notice before they do any job action such as a walkout. For right now, there is no strike, but there's also no contract.

Come Monday, Conley Elementary School will be teeming with kids for the first day of school. All of the schools in Consolidated School District 158 start Monday and their teachers may be working without a contract.

Huntley Education Association represents more than 500 teachers in the district. HEA's presidents say they want a 6 percent salary increase for all teachers, limits on duties outside of the classroom, and more contributed to their insurance and retirement funds.

"We're not here for the money, we're here for the students. It's just one way of letting the teachers know that they do feel appreciated and do recognize they are professionals," said Kim Ashenbach, Huntley Education Association.

HEA made the counteroffer to the district's final offer that includes a 5 percent increase for 70 percent of the teachers. The superintendent says the district has overcome financial hardship due to the explosion of growth in the area. They can't offer more and be fiscally responsible.

"Really now in the last two years, three years, we have been able to put ourselves in a solid financial footing and that's where we find ourselves now. And we absolutely want to stay in that positive financial footing," said Dr. John Burkey, Consolidated School District 158.

As negotiations continue, parents are watching to see how this may or may not affect their children.

"We moved specifically to be in this district when we relocated. And I really want to keep the teachers that are here, because they are worth keeping," said Beth Reilly, parent.

"With this economy the way it is and with the lack of experience that most of the teachers have, they're barely even out of college," said Don Swanson, parent.

There are about 8,000 students in the district. For now, it looks like classes will go on as scheduled and there will be school on Monday. If there are any changes, parents will be notified by text, e-mail or by phone.


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