EDWARDSVILLE, Il (KMOV.com) -- Classes are beginning for the new school year and News 4 is working to find out if there are solutions to problems that will affect thousands of students at several districts.
That includes Edwardsville, where teachers are about to start the new school year without a contract.
Honking horns filled the street in front of Monday’s school board meeting, where more than 200 teachers picketed the board’s best and final contract offer.
School starts for students in Edwardsville on Wednesday, and Edwardsville teachers have already authorized a strike as early as next week.
It would shut down the district, keeping students out of the classroom.
Parents went to the board meeting to urge the board to get back to the bargaining table.
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“They’re our voice,” said parent Elise Rebmann. “It’s our community, and we want a voice in these cuts because they affect all of us.”
Teachers picketed the district for their three biggest complaints: proposed changes to salaries, pensions and class sizes.
The district says high school classes could top out at 34, which has parents concerned for their children’s quality of education.
I just don’t want her to get overlooked,” Ginger Steinhauff said of her child.
“The Edwardsville school district has the reputation of being the gold standard, and I chose it for that reason,” said Vince Ojeda. “And I think these changes could bring that reputation down.
Some parents told the school board, they’re willing to pay more taxes to keep that reputation- and in turn, they say, their property values.
But Superintendent Ed Hightower says he can’t support upping a burden.
“No. People are hurting, people need jobs, people are struggling to make ends meet. I am opposed to putting more pressure on tax payers,” he said.
Hightower says the district will not bargain again, having offered its best and final contract more than two weeks ago.
This means soon teachers will be forced into a decision to make concessions or strike.
No strike date has been set.