No contract negotiations are scheduled ahead of a potential strike Monday by Palatine Township Elementary District 15 secretaries, nurses and other support employees.
About 300 members of the Educational Support Personnel Association union and their supporters packed the Walter R. Sundling Junior High School theater in Palatine for Wednesday night's District 15 board meeting.
School board President Lisa Szczupaj said while a deal was not reached in a federal mediation session Wednesday, she believes progress was made. She said she hopes the 435-member local affiliated with the Illinois Education Association does not strike at its earliest opportunity Monday.
"We continue to feel strongly that we will come to an agreement and we're seeing forward progress," Szczupaj said. "That's a very good sign we are getting to be where we'd like to be collectively on both sides of the table."
Szczupaj said the next bargaining session isn't scheduled until Wednesday, Oct. 18 -- two days after the support employees are permitted to strike. She said it's "not for lack of effort or desire" the board likely cannot meet before Monday, but the availability of the elected officials, mediator and district attorney.
In response, Amy Kunz, a representative in the union's Palatine office, said the school board should participate in a bargaining session before Monday. Salary has been one of the sticking points in the talks.
"We have a 10-day notice of intent to strike, which says we can go out on Monday," Kunz said. "We'll make a decision on what we do. We hope the board will still meet with us this week."
Szczupaj said the school board "has every reason to believe there will not be a work stoppage on Monday."
Along within the nurses and secretaries, clerical workers, program assistants and sign-language interpreters are represented by the union. Their contract expired June 30.
Some support employees spoke at public comment time at Wednesday's meeting, including Rosella Roddy-Bartoli, a program assistant at Lincoln Elementary School in Palatine.
"We are asking that you treat us, who work side by side with teachers, just as fairly as they are treated," Roddy-Bartoli said.
Controversy erupted in District 15 in 2016 after another school board unanimously approved a 10-year teachers contract.
Looms: Support staff members pack board meeting