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Galesburg braces for teacher intent-to-strike vote

Some 675 Galesburg teachers and para-professionals are one step closer to a walkout.

That’s as the Galesburg Education Association prepares for an intent-to-strike vote Thursday evening.

Both sides called off negotiations set for Wednesday after remaining at an impasse.

At the surface, there’s music and sunshine at Galesburg’s Cafe in the Park.

But as youngsters savor the summer, there’s worry over a teacher strike in coming weeks.

“It would be nice to see them come to an agreement,” said Christen Plescia, Galesburg.

“It’s very stressful, just the uncertainty of it,” added Lora Ralston.

Ralston’s two boys, Nolan and Hayden, attend grade school in District 205.

She’s concerned about a strike’s impact on the entire community.

“We would like to believe that our kids have the best care when they get to school,” she said. “It’s unfortunate it has to go this far, this close to the beginning of the year.”

Quiet at the administration building on Wednesday.  Both sides remain locked in a stalemate. Teachers are accusing the school board of unfair and unethical tactics.

“We’re just as passionate,” said Galesburg Superintendent Bart Arthur. “But I certainly wouldn’t go to those levels of calling somebody out.  I just want to try to get it settled.”

Nearly 600 persons walked in Tuesday’s informational picket.  Among other things, teachers remain at odds over salary, schedules and security. But their district also faces a $2.7 million deficit.

“We don’t have a contract to ratify, so you can pretty much read what’s in the future,” said Tami Qualls, a Galesburg High teacher representing the Galesburg Education Association. “We’re all discouraged about that. That’s not where we want to go.”

Thursday evening’s intent-to-strike vote will take place during a closed door meeting at Galesburg High.

Both sides agree to meet with a mediator again on August 11.  But with teachers reporting to work on August 13, the clock is ticking.

At Cafe in the Park, a mellow lunch hour can’t mask the underlying tension.

“We want to prepare our children for the school year and getting in the classroom,” Ralston said.

“They need to get it settled,” added Gail Hopping, Galesburg. “Get the school year going.”

As decision time nears, lots of community concern in Galesburg.

8 comments

  • Bryan

    This is why Unions do not belong in Classrooms! Fire them all if they strike. They are teaching the kids if you don’t get your way, give up your responsibilities until you do.

  • Julie

    There are a lot of unemployed teachers who would love to take their jobs. I would love to have their current wages for a part time job! (3 months off during summer, 2 wk. X-Mas, 1 wk. Spring Break) My company has been on a wage freeze for three years and I pay $700.00 monthly for health insurance. I’m still grateful to have a job.

  • Kristine

    Our teachers are amazing!!
    I support them !
    Being a mommy and a para, the classrooms are tough ! They deserve more!
    Lets me positive for the kids !
    Love you Galesburg teachers!

    • Kristine

      Be positive*
      Its tough on all sides…
      But I do know teachers personally and its a year round job that doesn’t end

  • Melissa

    Teaching is NOT a part-time job. I am a teacher (not in Galesburg), and I put in a good 50 hours a week. I am up at the crack of dawn to get to school before kids are in the building to get things ready for the day, spend the day teaching, supervise after school activities, and then go home to grade and plan. My breaks are spent working on planning. My summers are spent offering summer activities for my students, taking classes and workshops (at my expense), and planning for the next year. This is in no way a complaint. I love my job, just as I am sure the teachers in Galesburg do. I chose a job I knew would not bring in big bucks to follow a calling, but it still kind of stings to be labeled as lazy or greedy when we ask for a raise or a little extra support.

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