Belvidere teachers stand together at school board meeting - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Belvidere teachers stand together at school board meeting

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BELVIDERE (WREX) -

 Belvidere teachers hope strength in numbers sends a message to the school district as their contracts hang in the balance.

At Monday night's school board meeting, nearly 200 teachers lined the parking lot to the administration building so board members could see them all dressed in black when they arrived.

"This is a movement of solidarity," said Belvidere Education Association vice president Kendra Asbury.

The board's agenda never included the contract negotiations.  It is discussed in executive session as the two sides prepare for a federal mediator to work them through an agreement.

The BEA's president and vice president spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting.

"We have all different issues from class size to teacher pay," said Asbury.  "We lost counselors at the middle and high school level.  We want to bring those back."

Several parents voiced their support for the teachers.

"I think it's unfortunate that teachers have to put this verbiage in their contracts to get these things in place," said Rachel Morse, a parent of a high schooler.

Contract negotiations between the BEA and school district failed over the summer.  Monday was the first day of school. Teachers will work without a contract until the meditation proves successful.

The superintendent of Belvidere schools is hopeful an agreement will be reached.

 "The board and the administration have been very respectful to what the teachers have contributed to the successes of the district," said Dr. Michael Houselog.

The teachers are hopeful, too, that money and policy changes will be added to their new deals.  

The first meeting with the federal mediator is set for September 3.

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