There is still no deal between the teachers union and the school board in Galesburg, Illinois, as the teachers strike now enters its third week.
Members of the Galesburg Education Association bargaining team could be seen hugging and wiping away tears as they left the Lincoln Education Center Tuesday night after eight hours of negotiations with a federal mediator. Wednesday will mark the 15th day that teachers in District 205 have been on strike.
"It is of the utmost importance to establish normalcy in our community and with our students, and we are very sad to offer this up to you," said GEA spokesperson Tami Qualls in a statement Tuesday night.
Both the Board of Education and the GEA have said that RIF, or reduction in force, and recall rights are the final sticking point in contract negotiations. Recall rights are a ranking system for calling teaches back to work in the event of a layoff.
Qualls said that the GEA submitted four separate supposals to the Board Tuesday dealing with the language surrounding that issue, but that the Board team would make no movement from its position.
"We feel that our last supposal that we offered up resolves our remaining issues to get students back into the classroom where they need to be. We are hoping our last supposal gets shared with the Board members that were not here tonight prior to our return tomorrow at 10 a.m. to further negotiate," said Qualls.
The Board of Education issued a statement Tuesday as well, saying it remains committed to following the Illinois School Code and will not further rewrite the evaluation plan that determines the ranking for teacher recall.
"The Board of Education is disappointed that the GEA insists on negotiating recall rights for teachers, which are in conflict with state law," the statement reads.
The statement further reads: "As things stand, it appears unlikely that the GHS football team will be able to participate in Friday night's scheduled game with Moline."
A large group of Galesburg High School football players waiting anxiously outside the negotiations, and left somberly after hearing the news. Though practices have gone on, school must be in session by Friday for the team to play its season opener.
"It's been rough, not only as just being a football player trying to get to play, but just to start my senior year," said student Ben Holloway. "Yeah, it's been pretty rough."
Both sides will meet again with a federal mediator on Wednesday, August 27, at 10 a.m.
You can read the Board of Education's full statement below:
The Board of Education is disappointed to announce that no agreement was reached after eight hours of mediation today. The Board remains committed to following the Illinois School Code, and will not further rewrite the evaluation plan previously adopted by the joint committee of teachers and administrators. The Board has communicated this position to the Galesburg Education Association (GEA) since negotiations began in April.
The Board of Education is disappointed that the GEA insists on negotiating recall rights for teachers, which are in conflict with the state law. This insistance has delayed the start of school and disrupted the community at large. We have already lost eleven school days for our students and many of our athletes have missed important events.
Like many in the community, the Board of Education is disappointed that this continued strike will adversely affect the GHS football team. The team must have a sufficient number of wins to be eligible for state playoffs. As things stand, it appears unlikely that the team will be able to participate in Friday night’s scheduled game with Moline.
The Galesburg Education Association's full statement:
We gave three different supposals to try to solve the RIF/recall language, and learned about 9 p.m. that the Board was given a directive not to go any further on the RIF/recall language then they'd previously proposed on Sunday. The GEA bargaining team then submitted a fourth supposal, and we requested that the Board members be called. The mediator returned with the negative response -- the Board bargaining team would not call the other Board members as requested.
We feel that our last supposal that we offered up resolves our remaining issues to get students back into the classroom where they need to be. We are hoping our last supposal gets shared with the Board members that were not here tonight prior to our return tomorrow at 10 am to further negotiate.
We are disappointed that the directive was not to bargain tonight, according to the board. It is of the utmost importance to establish normalcy in our community and with our students, and we are very sad to offer this up to you.