Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

September 23, 2013

Altamont teachers call strike

Two sides to meet in last-ditch effort before strike

Jackson Adams
Effingham Daily News

ALTAMONT — After the second negotiation in two weeks, Altamont Education Association has called a strike.

"The board has not moved off its position," said AEA President Mike Delaney. "We have not agreed on anything, and we'll be on strike Thursday morning."

After months of negotiation, Delaney said he was not surprised no progress was made and called on the community to help end the stalemate.

"The board is just not willing to negotiate," he said. "I don't know why. The public is going to have to be calling their board members. We're going to get out there tomorrow and the next day and talk to the public. Until the public gets involved, they're going to stay in their little offices and just keep saying no."

Altamont School Board President Jim Holland said he believes the board was receptive to the concerns of the AEA and wanted teachers to understand the district's financial hardships.

"Basically we shared with the teachers the district's financial side of things, and we threw the budget out there for them to study it and further analyze it the best that they could to understand where the district was coming at financially," he said. "The good thing about it is that both parties are talking and that helps when you can get the feel for the emotions that are coming out."

While the strike has been called, there may be one remaining chance for negotiation before teachers take to the streets. Another meeting is scheduled for Wednesday. Holland said he was looking forward to being able to continue to negotiate with teachers.

"We're open-minded, and that's the way we need to be," he said.

Delaney said a strike may leave students with substitute teachers in every classroom.

"If they're going to bring in subs to play a movie, they can show a movie, but they can't educate," he said. "They can run a day care but they can't run a school."