Litchfield teachers threaten strike as early as Wednesday

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by Maggie Crane / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on January 3, 2013 at 10:34 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 4:03 AM

LITCHFIELD, Il (KMOV.com) -- The Litchfield School District says it must make cuts to survive, but its 83 teachers believe the school can afford to pay them more.

School starts back on Monday, and teachers will teach, but the Litchfield Education Association president says teachers are ready to strike as early asWednesday if leaders can’t hammer out a last-minute agreement Monday night.

The Litchfield School Board is trying to dig out from deficit spending.  It’s offering a two-year contract with only a one percent raise, and a freeze on step increases for years served.  The district will continue to pay 100% of each teacher’s individual health care premium, but it is asking for a cap to those premiums for the long run.

Teachers want at least a three-percent raise and say the district has the money.

The union is ready to strike.  It’s set up child care for employees, a strike headquarters and picket schedule that would all effectively shut down Litchfield schools.  Parents are warned that they need to make child care arrangements if a deal can’t be reached by Monday night.

“The last thing we want to do is see parents put out, so we have made arrangements to have non-teaching staff here to take care of kids during the day,” Litchfield School Board President Tim Reents said.  “We’ll provide lunches and things like that.  My hopes would be that it wouldn’t last long and that we would be able to come to some sort of resolution.”

Last year Litchfield cut four teachers, two administrators and 10 sports programs to save money while facing a budget shortfall from state and local funding.

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