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Local

Streator Elementary district, union make 'final' offers

Streator Elementary's teacher's union could strike as early as Monday, April 9, after the union and the school district last week declared an impasse and published their final offers in contract negotiations Friday.

The board has asked the union to meet Wednesday, April 4, for negotiations, but on Friday, Streator Elementary Association co-president Jan Urbance was uncertain they would.

"If they are planning to stand behind a one-year contract and saying 'we don't know what we're working with' in terms of money from the state,'that's ridiculous,' " Urbance said. "We've done everything we can to keep this district afloat and to educate the students in the best way we can."

Urbance said she believes the district has enough information, based on new Superintendent Lisa Parker's recent talks with the state — that resulted in the tabling of the third year of the deficit reduction plan. She also said the last proposal the board gave them with changes was May 17, 2017.

Streator Elementary Board President Michael Holcomb said late Friday afternoon although the board was required to publish their best offer by Friday, it's not necessarily the last offer.

"It's the best offer we made since their final offer," he said. "It's the current final best offer. It's going to have to change one way or another because at this point neither side is going to accept the other's offer."

Holcomb added the board is being cautious as it waits for the state to finalize the funding formula, which they have most recently said would be released in April, but have previously rescheduled the release date several times.

"We're down to a one-year offer while we wait for the state to finalize their formula," Holcomb said. "There's a lot of uncertainty with the state's portion of our funding. We just feel we don't have enough confidence to give raises retroactively at this time."

Holcomb referred to the district's website ses44.net, which has posted a negotiations update, a statement from the board, the board's cost analysis and the board's final offer.

Asked about the board's comments in avoiding a possible strike, Holcomb referred to the board's statement on the website and said it offers the most concise explanation at this time.

"As of right now, the Union has filed an official 'Intent to Strike' notice," the statement reads. "The teachers are not compelled to strike, nor have they set a specific strike date. However, the Union’s decision to file an 'Intent to Strike' notice compels the Board to advise the community. The Board does not want a strike and remains committed to achieving a contract settlement in the best interests of the students, staff and the community. We will continue to seek a reasonable solution for this important community issue and provide updates to keep you informed of any new developments via our website and local news media."

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