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Negotiations continue between Kaneland teachers union, district

SUGAR GROVE – With the Kaneland Board of Education looking to replace the current step-and-lane model of compensation and the Kaneland Education Association adamantly against a replacement model, a mediator has been brought in to negotiate with both sides and try to find a resolution for a new contract.

Since negotiations between the Board of Education and KEA stalled after seven months, a mediation was held June 27, but no real headway was made.

“Not much happened today,” said Bridget Shanahan, media relations director for the Illinois Education Association. “They exchanged some proposals, but do not have a new agreement. Both sides are working on finding a common ground and hoping to find a solution. We’re still hopeful that we will come to a fair agreement before school starts.”

Shana Sparber, president of the Kaneland Board of Education, acknowledged that the mediation served more as an introduction to both sides and that there’s hope of agreeing to a new contract when the sides meet again.

“(On June 27) the mediator spent some time becoming versed in the outstanding topics and positions,” she said.

While summer’s official beginning was June 21, don’t let that confuse you into thinking that the 2019-20 school year is still a way’s away. It’s not. It’s right around the corner with a couple of teacher institute dates scheduled for Aug. 12-13 and the first day of school being Aug. 14.

The next mediation isn’t happening until July 11, just about a month before school is scheduled to start.

The KEA had a rally June 24 before the Board of Education meeting and then packed the meeting, holding signs throughout it. KEA president and longtime teacher Raney Good made a statement during the meeting, but that was the extent of discussion at that time.

“Our community also wants quality teachers among us who will stay in our district and with our students for the long haul,” Good said. “If we don’t make our working conditions and salaries fair and competitive, we will not be able to attract and retain quality educators. We want a community of teachers who will invest in staying for a long career with assurance that their commitment will be valued. This is what is best for students and for our community.”

The KEA wants its teachers to continue to be rewarded for their experience and education, something it has stated has been the working model for 45 years.

“We know it works,” Good said. “It compensates our teachers based on their experience and education, which is what the district claims it values.”

At the June 24 rally, explaining that the teachers deserve a fair agreement that recognizes their value, Good asked that the district do not devalue their earnings over time while pointing out the latest programs and initiatives they are now involved in, including 1:1 technology, Canvas and E-learning days.

“Over the last few years, more and more demands have been placed on our teachers as new programs and initiatives are being approved and implemented throughout the district,” she said. “While the district is embracing these new ideas and initiatives, teachers are managing their new workload while still working to plan quality lessons and experiences for students in their classrooms every day to best meet their learning goals.”

KEA takes issue with the rate at which the changes are being implemented.

“The new initiatives have drastically increased teacher workload while we are frantically learning new systems and creating tables and new approaches to meet the district’s demands related to these new initiatives,” Good said.

About 125 KEA members and supporters, many who donned red in support, met for a rally before the meeting in the parking lot of Harter Middle School. It’s unknown how many tuned into the live stream of the meeting as the website, www.kaneland.org, went down, but was back up shortly after the meeting adjourned.

Attendees packed what is often a scarcely attended meeting. They applauded loudly after Good spoke during public comment and held signs, including “Fair compensation without procrastination,” “Teachers need more than apples” and “Fair play = teachers stay” throughout the meeting.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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