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Teachers, School Board Not Meeting Until Next Week

WGIL Newsroom . Local News 1528

Continuing-CoverageUPDATED 9:07am 8/14/14  It appears at this time that the Galesburg Education Association will be striking a bit longer.

According to a press release, the GEA says they attempted to contact District 205 Administration to schedule a mediation session.

An attorney for the District allegedly said the Board will not meet for several days.

“This forces the extension of the strike, prolongs the time that students are out of the classroom, and further delays all athletic activities until at least sometime next week,” the release says.

The teacher’s union went on strike by default after rejecting the latest contract offer from the District 205 Board of Education on Tuesday night.

Teachers largely picketed around their respective schools on Wednesday. The move will be canceling classes in District 205 and classrooms affected by employees of the Knox Warren Special Education District until the contract dispute is resolved.

Steps to schedule mediation were taken after District Superintendent Bart Arthur said on the WGIL Morning News on Wednesday that he was open to future negotiations.

“We are willing to meet when the union decides they want to,” Arthur said. “Our door is open and because I believe we want to get a settlement.”

Salary, safe working conditions, and a reasonable cause for dismissal are still at issue.

The items have been repeatedly cited as problematic in the weeks leading up to the strike, even being brought up during the final mediation session on Tuesday before the scheduled start of school. Other language is also causing negotiations to stall, but Arthur says it is making contract talks difficult to narrow down.

The GEA says they are weren’t pleased by the Board’s response to their request to meet.

“[We] are once again disappointed at the Board’s continued lack of effort to reach an agreement that produces the best education environment for our students, educators, and the community,” the release says.

Athletic and other extra curricular activities have been cancelled until further notice due to the strike, with the potential for forfeited competitions. Teams can request a waiver to begin practices should the strike endure for an extended period.

The Galesburg Public Library says they will designate a room as a “Reader’s Lounge” on Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for students ages 8 and up while schools are closed.

Children under the age of 8 are considered welcome, but must be accompanied by the supervision of a parent or guardian.

The teacher strike will likely continue until a contract resolution has been met.

UPDATE:  Arthur said in a press release Thursday morning that the district has reached out to the federal mediator they’ve been working with, and are waiting on a response from the union in order to determine when talks can start again.