Metro-East News

No deal: East St. Louis school leaders and teachers again unable to resolve strike

District 189 school leaders and teacher union representatives met Friday but again failed to reach an agreement that would end the teacher strike.

Superintendent Arthur Culver said the district’s latest offer is $940,000 more than what was offered in the tentative agreement that was signed Sept. 29 by both parties and rejected overwhelmingly by the union body.

The district released a statement after the meeting that ended near 6 p.m. Friday that said, “The district and the union have not come to a tentative agreement. But the district’s latest offer has not been turned down by the union.”

The salary schedule continues to be the sticking point.

Culver said, “Although we have bargained in good faith, we can only offer a contract that the district can sustain. We have been completely transparent with Union Local 1220, the media and the community.”

Union representative Dave Comerford said teachers are reviewing the latest offer.

The district, under state intervention since 2011, is “amidst a multi-year effort to stabilize the district’s financial condition, implementing significant budgetary reductions such as school closures, reductions-in-force and employee salary freezes,” Culver said. He said the district is being sustained financially by temporary funding through isolated legislative appropriations and occasional supplemental funding from state as well as debt restructuring and the sale of working cash bonds. This temporary funding has allowed the district to accumulate a fund balance of $30 million, which is less than four months of current operating expenses, Culver said.

Since there was no deal in place as of Friday, there will be no school on Monday or Tuesday. Whether the school doors will reopen on Wednesday depends on what happens at Tuesday’s meeting.

The District’s Financial Oversight Panel meets Monday at noon. Parents and community members have been invited to attend and express their concerns.

The district’s latest contract offer can be seen here. The district has been making information about the issue available on its website, www.estl189.com.

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