Contract negotiations continued Wednesday between Naperville School District 203 and representatives of the district's teachers union, as a strike looms just days before the school year begins.
The Naperville Unit Education Association, representing 1,500 teachers, met for another mediation session with the Naperville Community Unit School District 203 Board of Education on Wednesday, the Illinois Education Association said in a statement.
Teachers rallied Monday evening, meeting at Naperville North High School to march to Washington Junior High School to call for a contract agreement.
Contract negotiations began in January of this year, with the previous contract expiring June 30 and both sides working with a mediator since then to reach an agreement.
The union said there are two main issues. First, the teachers want to be able to use accumulated sick days for a full 12 weeks after the birth or adoption of a child, which they say aligns with the Family and Medical Leave Act, rather than the previous allowance of six weeks. The district said Monday that it has increased its offer to propose allowing eight weeks for non-medical purposes, in addition to the paid sick leave to medically recover from childbirth.
The union also wants pay increases as the district asks them to continue to implement a multi-tiered system of supports, or MTSS, that they call a "premium learning service" that requires "a tremendous amount of added responsibilities in all areas of teaching," the NUEA said.
The district said Tuesday that it offered a $300 one-time "appreciation payment" to be paid within 30 days of contract approval on top of the existing proposal which provides raises "for every educator, during every year of the proposed four-year contract."
On Aug. 11, the NUEA voted to authorize a strike, giving the bargaining team the authority to call a strike if the two sides are unable to reach an agreement.
"We are committed to working with the NUEA to reach a fair and fiscally responsible multi-year contract agreement that serves the best interests of all stakeholders—students, parents, educators and the taxpayer community—without disruption to teaching and learning," the district said in an update posted on its website following negotiations on Tuesday.
"While no significant movement has yet occurred, we felt today’s session was filled with collaborative and creative discussions about resolving our two main issues of disagreement," NUEA President Dan Iverson said after Tuesday's meeting. "We felt that we left today with some positive momentum that we hope to continue into our next mediation session."
Classes are scheduled to begin Thursday for the district which serves roughly 16,500 students.