Kaneland teachers rallying days before contract is set to expire
Kaneland Unit School District 302 teachers are expected to rally before a school board meeting Monday, just days before their contract is set to expire and a federal mediator steps in.
Bargaining teams representing the school board and Kaneland Education Association have met at least 16 times since November to negotiate a new contract, but the union on May 22 requested the help of a mediator to go over topics that are still outstanding.
The sticking point, according to the union, is the board's desire to get rid of a traditional step-and-lane salary schedule. Teachers argue that such a schedule has been in place in Kaneland for 45 years, and every other school district in Kane County uses one.
"We want the community to know that the board can meet our requests without raising taxes. We're teachers. We've done the math," said Raney Good, the union's president, in a news release on Friday. "Every year, we're losing educators to school districts that pay more -- like Elgin, West Aurora and Central. If we don't make our salaries competitive, we will not be able to attract and retain quality educators, which means our students will lose."
Members of the 346-person union -- which includes teachers, social workers, psychologists, nurses and speech pathologists within the six-school district -- are expected to gather for a rally at 6:30 p.m. Monday outside Harter Middle School in Sugar Grove. They plan to head inside for the 7 p.m. board meeting, where Good will read a statement.
The first session with the mediator is scheduled for Thursday, June 27. The current four-year contract expires Sunday, June 30.
School board president Shana Sparber declined to answer Saturday whether the school board wants to get rid of step-and-lane.
"The Board of Education values teachers and all Kaneland employees and is negotiating to secure a fair and fiscally responsible contract to ensure the current levels of programs and staffing in Kaneland CUSD 302," she said.
"The Board of Education is planning updates to the parents and the community to provide more information that may include outstanding topics such as the incorporation of a Social Emotional Learning program for students, teacher compensation, compensation models, retention rates and what is mediation."
Kaneland covers all or parts of Aurora, Cortland, Elburn, Kaneville, Maple Park, Montgomery, North Aurora, Sugar Grove and Virgil.