Teachers in Collinsville, Caseyville and Maryville have been working without a contract all school year.
Union co-president Stacey Lauenstein said the teachers and Collinsville Unit 10 officials haven’t been able to come to an agreement on money, because it’s unclear how much funding the district will get from the state this year.
The state promised to send more money to districts where student live in poverty under school funding legislation that passed in August. Collinsville Unit 10 is expecting an increase but has seen only estimates so far.
State education officials say schools should start receiving their money in April, so Lauenstein said the union and district officials are planning to meet on April 17.
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The district declined to comment on the contract negotiations.
“We have nothing to say at this time,” Unit 10 spokesperson Kim Collins said in an email to the Belleville News-Democrat.
Lauenstein, who is also the co-chair for the negotiating team, said the union understands that district leaders want to know how much they have to spend before they bring a proposal to teachers.
But the eight-month wait has been frustrating for some teachers who want to plan for their retirement or who have gone back to school to raise their salaries, according to Lauenstein. Teachers’ pay is based in part on their level of education; Lauenstein said teachers don’t see an increase when there’s no contract.
“This is my 20th year in the district, and we’ve never gone this long without a contract,” Lauenstein said.
On Monday, several teachers and their families brought signs to a meeting with the school board, administration and a mediator, according to the union’s website and social media. Some of their signs read “We deserve a raise,” “We’d rather teach than strike” and “My mom is worth a million, but she will settle for a contract.”
The union is asking for a pay increase for teachers under a new contract. Lauenstein declined to give an amount that they might ask for.
“We definitely feel that there is money there to give raises,” she said.
Lauenstein said she doesn’t think the district disagrees; it’s “just leery” to come to an agreement without numbers from the state.
Unit 10 should also have more money coming in this year from a small increase in property taxes and a savings from the employees who retired in 2017, according to Lauenstein.
Collinsville Unit 10’s last agreement with the teachers union lasted from 2015 to 2017.