Teachers in Community Unit District 300 went out on
Negotiators for the teachers union and the school district met for nearly nine hours Monday but failed to reach an agreement, according to a statement posted by the school district.
Hundreds of teachers, with some students joining, are picketing in front of Jacobs High School in Algonquin, the district headquarters and others sites around the large school system in the far northwest suburbs.
"Of course we'd rather be in the classroom doing what we love to do, doing what we were hired to do," said Tom Domenz, an art teacher at Jacobs. "Sometimes you have to make tough choices. You have to take a stand."
He said class sizes range between 20 and 40 kids in high school, more than 40 in many cases.
"You can't teach equitably that way," Domenz said. "Classes are all over the board. It's not fair to the kids. Parents are paying the same taxes and (students) are not getting the same attention."
Steve Pittner, a 7th grade social studies teacher at Algonquin Middle School, said there has been "tremendous support" from parents and teachers, as well as people driving by the picket lines.
"They got to do something about the class size," Pittner said while picketing at the corner of Algonquin Road and Main Street. "(Large classes) are not creating a culture of learning that's conducive for our students. This is the worst I've seen it. As far as class size goes, this is bad."
In a deal offered to teachers on Monday, district officials say they agreed to cap class sizes next year at 27 students in kindergarten through second grade and 30 students in grades 3 to 5, as well as add 60 new teachers throughout the district.
But union spokesman Michael Williamson said those class sizes aren't low enough to satisfy teachers. He also said teachers want an increase in their base salary.
The district counters that the union returned with new salary demands after the school board made its offer to lower class sizes.
Union officials have also argued that teachers are underpaid compared to other suburban districts, according to a statement on the teachers union website.
The district in the far northwest suburbs has more than 20,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12 and employs about 1,200 teachers. The two sides could meet today at 2 p.m., Williamson said.
Several suburban teachers unions have staged walkouts since