The Streator Elementary Board of Education and its teachers union are scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon for contract negotiations.
With both sides declaring an impasse, the union has filed an intent to strike as early as Monday, April 9. Per state law, the meeting will take place in closed session.
Union president Jan Urbance said teachers are not interested in negotiating a one-year contract.
“We don’t want to bother if that’s their plan,” Urbance said in a phone interview Monday. “We’d agree, and then it would expire in May, and we’d be back to the negotiation table. That doesn’t make any sense.”
Urbance said there are about 30 items unsettled in talks.
Board president Michael Holcomb said the board wanted to meet in December, but he said the union called off the meeting unless raises were discussed. Urbance said pay raises will be imperative if both sides wish to move forward.
Holcomb has said the uncertainty in the state’s funding formula has held back the board in negotiations. For the past two years, the district had been in a deficit reduction plan, which included the closing of Sherman School.
Holcomb believes Superintendent Lisa Parker will have a better idea of what the school district is projecting for its upcoming budgets by Wednesday, especially after the governor recently signed education funding into law.
With new funding, the district is anticipating a balanced budget this year, tabling its deficit reduction plan.
“Right now we’re waiting for Dr. Parker to do an assessment,” Holcomb said. “We don’t want to approve raises above a balanced budget, or raises that will put us back in the red.”
Urbance said she is hopeful Parker, who is working part-time until she takes over full-time June 30, will mend relationships between the union and the board. Teachers have had positive interactions with Parker since she took the interim post in February, Urbance said.
“She’s been wonderful,” Urbance said. “All the hard feelings that have been laid out have come before she came into the district. We’re hoping with balanced budgets this year and next, we can all move forward on a positive note.”