Teutopolis Teachers Announce Strike Date

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Published on March 18 2014 12:17 am
Last Updated on March 20 2014 2:29 am
Written by Wayne Moran

The Teutopolis Education Association has announced they will begin a strike Friday if a tentative contract agreement is not in place by then.

Teutopolis teachers, joined by teachers from Dieterich, Effingham, Robinson, Palestine and Altamont walked a picket line prior to Monday night's Teutopolis School Board meeting.

(TEACHERS WALKING A PICKET LINE IN TEUTOPOLIS PRIOR TO THE SCHOOL BOARD MEETING MONDAY NIGHT)

TEA Co-President Amy Oseland said district teachers don't feel they're asking for much.  She said they are seeking the step on the salary schedule they would normally receive.  She said the Board instead is seeking a hard freeze, meaning no pay increase for the current school year.  The teachers' contract expired at the start of the school year.

Oseland also expressed some frustration with the negotiating posture of the Board, saying there has been no change in the Board's stance since August, while the Association has offered three different proposals.  Teutopolis Superintendent Bill Fritcher confirmed Monday night that the Board's offer has basically remained unchanged.

Another sticking point with the teachers is a desire by the Board for a two-tier pay scale for teachers, with current employees working on one salary schedule while any new hires would work on a separate pay scale.  The new hires would be paid on a schedule reflecting the longer period of time it will take them to reach retirement enacted in Illinois.  

Board member Jim Buhnerkempe said it would involve more steps on the schedule and smaller pay increases per step.  Theoretically, the new hires would earn the same amount of money prior to retirement, but it would take them a longer period of time to get there.

Oseland said the Association feels having people doing the same work for different incentives would hurt the work environment.  She said there might be a good supply of teachers now, but fears that will change if pay rates aren't comparable for educators as for other professions.

(A SIZABLE CROWD GATHERED FOR MONDAY NIGHT'S TEUTOPOLIS SCHOOL BOARD MEETING)

Teutopolis businessman Dick Hawickhorst mentioned to the Board a book he'd read about a "tipping point" where things move past the point of no return.  He wonders whether the two-tier pay scale might be the tipping point where Teutopolis would see the end of high test scores seen for years in the district.

Local resident Ed Wiessing asked where the two-tier pay scale has worked?  The response was that it is only being implemented in light of the change in pension requirements for Illinois teachers, so there's no track record for the proposal.