Mendota Schoolboard walks out of Saturday bargaining session; no agreement reached

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MENDOTA, Ill. — No agreement has been made between Mendota’s Schoolboard and the Mendota Education Association.

This comes after teachers in Mendota Elementary District 289 have gone on strike since Wednesday this week.

The Illinois Education Association released the following statement on Saturday afternoon.

After a few hours of bargaining and before reaching a deal, the District 289 Board of Education (BOE) abruptly walked out of mediation with the Mendota Education Association (MEA) this afternoon. The two sides met for bargaining at 10 a.m. in the hopes of reaching a new contract. The BOE also canceled the only other scheduled negotiation session, which was supposed to happen at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

The following statement is attributable to MEA Co-Vice Presidents Brandon Scheppers and Rachel Sabin:

“We are so disappointed. The board walking out and canceling our only other scheduled negotiation session means there is no way we can have school on Monday. This is about our students. They were elected to put our students first. The Illinois school board oath clearly states board members should be looking out for the best interest of their students. That’s not what’s happening here. The board did not come to the table today with a willingness to bargain. Their first offer of the day was the same offer they submitted during last Tuesday’s session. There were no language issues for personal plan time and recess duty addressed in that offer or any of their offers all day. When it was our turn to counter, we offered a four-year contract so our students, the community and teachers will have some stability and peace of mind over the next four years.  However, the board had other plans. The board then insisted MEA accept year one of its contract offer, come back to work and continue to negotiate for years two and three of the contract. This is absolutely ridiculous. We want to go back to our classrooms and focus solely on our students. Our community deserves stability. We can and should reach a multi-year contract and put this entire thing to rest right now.

We are asking the community to reach out to the board members through our hotline and whatever other means possible and urge them to come back to the table tomorrow. The mediator informed us he is available tomorrow, and he’s clearing his schedule for next week. The MEA remains willing to meet any day, at any time, for as long as it takes to get a fair contract that puts our students first. Hundreds of parents, MEA members and community members will be at our rally tomorrow urging the board to come to the table. We hope they will reconsider and meet with us, so we can get back to our classrooms to work with the students we care deeply about.”

Hundreds are expected to attend an MEA rally for Mendota students. The rally is at 12:15 p.m. on Sunday at Purple Park/ Strouss Park (1000 Meridian St., Mendota).

The MEA hotline has been flooded with phone calls since it was opened on Thursday afternoon. More than 100 calls came in less than 24 hours. The hotline number is 1-844-311-3378. Callers are greeted with a message from Scheppers and then the calls are patched through to the district office.

The MEA has been on strike since Wednesday. MEA is made up of 76 elementary members and 39 high school teachers from School District 280. Only the elementary teachers from District 289 are on strike. Their contract expired on Aug. 14, and they’ve been negotiating with the D289 BOE since March. District 289 serves 1,170 students and has three schools.

WMBD reached out to the Board of Education and has not received a response yet.

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