Over 100 Kaneland School District teachers and other members of the community rallied outside of Harter Middle School on Monday
They were there supporting the Kaneland Education Association as they continue to negotiate a new contract before their current one expires at the end of the month.
They wore all red, and held up signs with slogans like “Teachers need more than apples."
Raney Good is the Kaneland Education Association’s president.
"We did have a session today with the district, and I want to tell you it's tough going," she said to the crowd huddled in front of the flagpole. "And that's why we need you here, so thank you so much."
She then introduced members of the negotiating team, while noting that at least one person was missing -- it being summer vacation and all -- before leading the teachers though a few “KEA united, we’ll never be divided” chants.
Kaneland educators have been negotiating with the district for seven months. Good says the main obstacle has been compensation with a growing workload.
“This district has a lot of new initiatives, new programs that are being put on teachers and we would like to make sure that the workload isn't unreasonable that we have time to work on that, but also valued with compensation at the same time,” said Goode, as all of the teachers began funneling into the building to make their presence known at the board meeting.
Kaneland School Board President Shana Sparber said the district’s biggest challenge was negotiating before the state’s legislative session ended. “The Illinois General Assembly had legislation pending that had major ramifications that had to be considered in these negotiations,” she said. Since the session ended, she says the sides have met twice.
The district’s salary structure has also been a sticking point. Teachers want to stay with the traditional “step-and-lane” schedule: They say Kaneland has used it for 45 years. The schedule rewards teachers the more experience and education they get.
“I think they’re probably looking at containing their costs and it’s all about the money, really,” said Good.
Sparber says the board has studied several options to compensate fairly, and also maintain funding for the programs the district wants to provide.