The back and forth in the contract negotiations between the Sherrard School Board and the Sherrard Education Association could come down to how the district will handle their busing in the future.
Currently, the schools in the district start at different times. The Board wants to implement a universal start time so that all of the schools will start at the same time. In order to do that, the district would need 8-10 more buses, according to a memo sent out by the Sherrard School Board.
The memo states, “Our district simply does not own enough busses nor do we have enough transportation employees to provide the level of service required to meet the needs of implementing a universal start time. The Illinois School Code prohibits the district from entering into a contract with a third party for non-instructional services which are currently performed by an employee during the term of a collective bargaining agreement. As such, the District is working diligently to protect existing jobs for our transportation employees while seeking to supplement existing capacity due to our inability to both attract additional transportation employees and provide funding for the additional 8-10 busses required.”
The Sherrard Education Association has been concerned with how this might affect the current employee’s wages, hours and even retirement.
For several hours Thursday, February 06, 2014, the two sides met to discuss the transportation issue. Nothing was decided on, but according to Robert Wilson, the lead negotiator for the Sherrard Education Association, the union handed the Board a new proposal that is a three year contract with the same language as former proposals, but agrees with how the Board is laying out their universal start time, which would allow for sub contracting for nine routes.
According to Wilson, on Monday, February 10, 2014, at 5:30 p.m., the Board and Sherrard Education Association will meet to discuss the transportation issue and the entire contract.
However, on Sunday, February 9, 2014, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the church in Preemption, the union will hold a vote on their intent to strike. According to Wilson, this is in order to have other timelines in place. If the union votes for their intent to strike, they would need to give a ten day notice before they can take to the picket lines.
As of 9:00 p.m. February 6, 2014, News 8 had not heard back from the Sherrard School Board President Leslie Anderson about Thursday’s meeting. In an email, she stated she was not at the meeting and was waiting to talk with the district’s attorney before she could follow up.