Kaneland teachers rally outside, make their case inside for raises

  • Kaneland Education Association members hold a rally before Monday's Kaneland school district board meeting at Harter Middle School in Sugar Grove. The teachers' contract expires June 30.

      Kaneland Education Association members hold a rally before Monday's Kaneland school district board meeting at Harter Middle School in Sugar Grove. The teachers' contract expires June 30. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Kaneland Education Association union President Raney Good speaks to the school board, during a public comment session, about negotiations for a new contract. A mediator has been called in to resolve differences.

      Kaneland Education Association union President Raney Good speaks to the school board, during a public comment session, about negotiations for a new contract. A mediator has been called in to resolve differences. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Kaneland District 302 school board President Shana Sparber surveys the crowd as they hold up signs in support of Kaneland Education Association members during a rally before Monday's school board meeting at Harter Middle School in Sugar Grove. The teachers' contract expires June 30.

      Kaneland District 302 school board President Shana Sparber surveys the crowd as they hold up signs in support of Kaneland Education Association members during a rally before Monday's school board meeting at Harter Middle School in Sugar Grove. The teachers' contract expires June 30. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 6/24/2019 9:21 PM

Red-clad Kaneland teachers and their supporters made sure Monday night the Kaneland school board got their point: They are not happy with how negotiations for a new contract are going.

More than 100 of them filled a board meeting room, quietly holding small signs bearing slogans like "Fair pay = teachers stay!!!", "Teachers need more than apples!!!" and "KEA is ... stronger united!!!"

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Kaneland Education Association President Raney Good, speaking for the group, told the board that it wants pay closer to that of other local districts.

She also said teachers' workloads have increased "drastically" in recent years as the district has changed or implemented new programs. "The KEA values all these initiatives," Good said, but the pace of implementation has been a strain.

"The district says they value their teachers. We are simply asking them for a fair agreement that values our educators and manages our workload," Good said. "Perhaps most importantly, we're asking the district that expresses value in us to not devalue our earnings over time."

At a rally before the meeting outside the school, Good talked about a negotiation session held earlier in the day. "I want to tell you, it is tough going," Good told the crowd.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Good declined to specify what, if any, pay increases the union is seeking. The union wants to retain the long-used step-and-lane model of compensation, where pay is increased for each year of experience as well as for advanced college education. Good said last week the board wants a different model. Board President Shana Sparber last week would not specify what, if any, changes to the model it wants.

The board did not respond to Good's comments. That's normal, as the board, like many other school boards, has a policy of not responding to public comments immediately at meetings.

The two sides are due to meet with a mediator Thursday.

The Kaneland district had 4,410 students in 2017-18, according to that school year's Illinois School Report Card, and the equivalent of 297 full-time teachers. The Kaneland Education Association has 346 members; besides teachers, the contract covers social workers, psychologists and librarians.

Good said last week that the district loses educators every year to other Kane County districts that "pay more."

The school report card shows that Kaneland had a three-year average retention rate of 86.4%.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Kaneland's starting salary, for a teacher with no experience and just a bachelor's degree, ranks ninth out of 10 districts in Kane County, according to the websites for the Oswego, Batavia, Geneva, East Aurora, West Aurora, St. Charles, Central, Elgin and Dundee districts. Oswego, Batavia, West Aurora and Dundee districts are also negotiating new contracts.

The district educates students in all or parts of Montgomery, Aurora, Sugar Grove, North Aurora, Elburn, Kaneville, Maple Park, Cortland and Virgil.

The current four-year contract expires June 30.

Contract: Two sides will meet Thursday with a mediator

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