Winnebago School Board and Education Assoc. in mediation - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Winnebago School Board and Education Assoc. in mediation

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WINNEBAGO - (WREX) -

Winnebago teachers say they're fed up. They've been working without contracts this entire school year. The Winnebago Education Association is made up of 100 certified teachers in the district. Seven of those teachers make up the union's negotiating team. They gathered at McNair Elementary School with administrators and a mediator to work out teachers' contracts.

Dozens of WEA members came to support their negotiating team. Teachers took a pay freeze in the 2011-2012 school year and they believe higher wages are appropriate if they have higher education and more years of experience. Faculty also think more pay will attract future hires to the district. Union spokesperson Kirsten Garrigan tells me she knows of teachers who started in Winnebago CUSD 323 and left quickly because they couldn't afford to stay. Union members are also worried about growing class sizes. Garrigan says any number over 20 students becomes a bigger and bigger deal. Right now she's teaching around 25 each class. As for the salaries, Garrigan believes the district's got extra funding, since they plan to lose 6 teachers next school year.

"From our understanding, Winnebago has some money, especially just alone with our retiring teachers who will be going out at the end of this year. Not to say it's not needed in other places, but we would like to see the money stay with the kids." -she says.

Garrigan's not sure how long this mediation will last, but would like to get this all done before a new superintendent starts working in the fall. We tried contacting district administration representatives but they have no comment at this time.

Earlier we reported...

The Winnebago School Board and Winnebago Education Association have entered mediation after almost a year of negotiations.

The two groups have been in negotiations since March of last year and teachers have been working without a contract for the current school year.

The groups are attempting to reach a contract and the W.E.A. has not taken action toward a strike vote.

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