4 weeks ago Marty Hobe, The Register-Mail
Local and state education officials help answer some of the most pressing reader questions about the Galesburg teachers' strike
From Marty Hobe, The Register-Mail :As the District 205 teachers' strike enters its 12th day, several questions remain about negotiations and the impact of the delayed start of school. Local and state education officials help answer some of the most pressing reader questions.How many of the missed school days will have to be made up?Superintendent Bart Arthur said the Galesburg Education Association and the district will have to negotiate the number of days to be made up after a contract is settled upon. He said it is “dependent on how many days we're out,” on strike.GEA spokeswoman Tami Qualls agreed with Arthur, and said the union will bargain for making up all the missed days.Matt Vanover at the Illinois State Board of Education said the district has to have 176 school days or the district could be in danger of losing some of its general state aid funding from the state.Can arbitration be used to resolve the strike?According to Arthur, arbitration is not allowed by state law.“That's not an option the state has provided us,” Arthur said. “First we have collective bargaining face-to-face, which didn't work. Second is the mediation, and the mediator generally stays with the union until the strike is over.”However, Vanover said arbitration has been used in the past, but did not clarify how the district would go about seeking arbitration.Chicago Public Schools sought arbitration in 2012.Are teachers covered by health insurance during the strike?Arthur said teachers are covered under their insurance policies until Aug. 31. In September, Arthur said they could apply for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation (COBRA) health care until the strike is resolved.Qualls confirmed that the teachers are covered under last year's health care contract, which ends Sept. 1.Are secretaries, custodians, and food service workers being paid during the strike?If workers are in the buildings, they are being paid. However, Arthur said not all workers are at work. For instance the food service workers are only in school when the kids are, so they are not receiving a paycheck during the strike.How many teachers are on strike?District 205 Human Resources Director Diane VanHootegem said the exact number of teachers is unknown, but 560 teachers and paraprofessionals are on strike at this time.How many school districts are involved in a strike in Illinois?No other school district is actually on strike at the moment, however, Highland Community Unit School District 5 teachers filed an intent to strike Aug. 5, and could strike Sept. 1 when the contract expires, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.