MURPHYSBORO (WSIL) – The clock has struck midnight on contract negotiations as teachers from Murphysboro School District 186 will go on strike starting Thursday.
The strike will close all of the district’s schools and cancel all extracurricular activities including all athletic events.
"We’ve got volleyball tournaments, cross country meets. There’s just a lot of activities that the kids will not participate in," said district superintendent Chris Grode. He adds that the school board’s final offer was rejected twice, including at Wednesday night’s meeting at Carruther’s Elementary School.
"(The offer) was an average four-percent increase to their salaries, and that’s with 100% of insurance and 100% of their retirement being paid for by the district," said Grode.
Murphysboro Education Association representative Lisa Shields says the community support has given them hope as they tried to bargain for better contracts.
"We know there’s a lot at stake," Shields said. "We want to be here with our students, that’s our priority, and that is why we feel so strong about this."
But after an hour of negotiations, the school board announced that an agreement was not set , paving the way for a strike.
In a news release, Grode said the board was ‘frustrated’ after the teacher’s union rejected it’s final offer. He added that the teachers demanded that the district ‘deficit spend’ more than what was fiscally responsible.
In a separate release, Shields called the latest development unfortunate and that "we had to go on strike so we can continue to fight for what’s best for our community".