MAHOMET – Mahomet teachers will be on strike again today.
Contract negotiations ended when the board's negotiating team walked out around 9 p.m. Thursday.
"We asked the MSEA to make a serious and significant move and its proposal, and they chose not to do that," said Terry Greene, president of the Mahomet-Seymour school board. "The board did make a movement on salary. It wasn't enough. The proposal we got back even had some extra things on it. Before we can settle this contract dispute, the MSEA leadership needs to get serious about what it needs to do in trying to spend down the school district's resources."
The school board proposed a two-year contract, coming up to 3.5 percent for secretaries, nurses, transportation workers and custodians; teacher aides would get step plus 1 percent, which means a 3.1 percent increase in the average teacher salary schedule.
In the second year, all support staff and teacher aides would get 4 percent increases in the average teacher salary schedule.
But they did not come up for certified teachers, which was a deal-breaker for teachers.
"Our teachers can't accept that," said Joan Jordan, co-president of the Mahomet-Seymour Education Association, said. "I don't know what they have against certified teacher. Terry Greene is trying to make a point that the administration and the board is trying to run this district. There's no excuse for that."
Eric Potter, spokesperson for the MSEA, also said in a written release that the Mahomet-Seymour school district is due about $700,000 to $750,000 from the Federal Education Jobs bill targeted to pay teachers and support professionals, according to a preliminary report from the Illinois State Board of Education.
"A fair contract is affordable with current revenues," he said in the release, "with no tax increase needed."
At least a couple of students are upset they won't be in school today.
Tabytha Lawless, 16, of Mahomet, a junior, said she sees the teachers' side of things but would like to go back to school.
"I think (the teachers) should probably get more money," she said. "But I don't think they should go on strike about it. I would rather be in school than running around picketing."
She said she is "kind of mad" about it, "because everybody else is starting school."
Lawless also does not want to see sporting events such as the first football game against Mount Zion canceled because of the strike.
Bri Wisehart, 15, of Mahomet, a sophomore, agreed.
"I think it's not really fair to all the students," she said.
Wisehart said she would like see the teachers and district peacefully work something out while the students continue to go to school.
"I (am) upset because we could still be going to school and the teachers could be working it out while we're at school. They could have meetings after school."
Teachers will walk the picket line from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at Middletown Early Childhood Center and Sangamon Elementary School.
A negotiation session has been scheduled for 1 p.m. today at Mahomet-Seymour High School.