District 15 School Support Staff Return to Picket Line as Strike Enters 2nd Week

Support staff in Palatine schools will return to the picket line Monday as a strike in District 15 enters its second week. 

After 14 hours of contract negotiations Sunday, the staff's union and the district failed to reach a deal. 

A judge ruled last week that a third of the union members, which includes secretaries, nurses and program assistants, couldn't strike due to safety concerns for students. 

Another bargaining session is expected to take place next Sunday. 

The more than 450 educational support workers in the Illinolis' third-largest elementary school district declared a strike last week after being without a contract since July. 

The 454 members of the Educational Support Personnel Association include secretaries, clericals, classroom aides, nurses and sign language interpreters in the district.

“Our members work with the most vulnerable students in the district and also happen to be among the lowest paid. We believe asking for a 2.5 percent salary increase is a humble request,” ESPA President Angie Drazkowski said in a statement last Monday. “Those extra dollars will help ensure talented individuals continue to work within District 15 providing a better future for our students and our community.”

District Superintendent Scott Thompson said there are "presently 14 areas of contract agreement and three oustanding items remaining" following Sunday's negotiations. 

"The board is committed to negotiating in good faith until a fair agreement to both ESPA and our District 15 taxpayers is reached," Thompson said in a letter to parents Monday. "This has been an emotional time for our staff and community. It is easy to put one side against the other, but I want to emphasize that we are all on the same team. We are all part of the District 15 family with a joint mission of providing an excellent education to our students."

Thompson said schools will remain during the strike.

"The absence of many of our secretaries, clerical staff, program assistants and nurses has been hard on all of us, especially our children," he wrote. "We hope for a resolution soon."

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