About a hundred people gathered outside of Galesburg High School on Tuesday, July 29 for an informational picket put on by the Galesburg Education Association (GEA).
The GEA is demanding several changes, including a 1.5% salary increase, clear definitions of their work hours, and tighter contract security when it comes to their retirement.
Galesburg recently reported having a deficit of $2.7 million and they offered raising teachers salaries 2.02% in 2014 as well as a 2.06% raise in 2015.
According to Tami Qualls, a supervisor for the GEA, said the offer doesn’t cover other contractual changes such as higher insurance costs.
“We just want to be treated fairly,” said Tami Qualls, a supervisor for the GEA. “We love what we do [and] we want the best for our district. We wouldn’t ask if we thought it would put them in danger.”
So far, the Board of Education has said some of the GEA’s demands are impossible.
“We’re just in a tight spot right now,” said Bart Arthur, Superintendent of Galesburg District 205. “Contract negotiations are already difficult in Illinois, especially now because funding levels from the state have been cut so severely and the federal government is cutting back.”
“I’m a firm believer in paying your teachers but I also have an obligation to the taxpayers,” said Arthur.
The teachers, however, aren’t buying it.
“We have over 16 million dollars going into our athletic complex, we just bought 3 mini-buses [and] we’ve hired five more teachers and made them into administrators,” said Qualls.
Negotiations are expected to continue for another day. If the school board and the GEA don’t reach a settlement by July 31, the GEA said they will vote on whether or not to hold a strike.