FARMER CITY, Ill. (WCIA) — The Blue Ridge Teachers’ Union is just days from striking, unless a deal is reached.
Tonight, dozens packed the school board meeting and several delivered emotional speeches in support of the teachers and staff they’ve spent years with.
There was more hope than tension in the room as this happened.
Union President Don Anton told us even though union members and the district still stand far apart, he was touched by the level of support shown tonight.
Anton lives in Champaign. But for the past 25 years, he’s taught at Blue Ridge…where he says his real home is.
Two of the people who stood to speak after him were people he once stood in front of…as their teacher.
“I didn’t know what they were gonna say. I teared up a little bit,” said Anton.
Danee Deffenbaugh was one of them.
“I stand before you today a loyal, and strong supporter of all things Blue Ridge and knight nation,” said Deffenbaugh. “But I can’t lie…that house I bought three years ago? I tried to sell it. I’ve looked at other school districts, and I’m trying to accept the fact that my daughter may not graduate a knight, as I did.”
Brittany Sage was the other.
“The people who work in this district are my heroes,” said Sage. “They shaped who I am, and who I want to be. I hope that (the school district) will honor their work, and the risks they take doing it by giving them a fair contract.”
“When it means enough for someone to come back over 10 years later and speak on behalf of their teachers, and call them out by name about what they meant, it really reinforces the importance of what we do, and it’s so critical that we stop the turnover,” said Anton.
The dozens of people donning blue rose, walked out of the room, and walked laps around the school.
With signs, glow sticks, and flash lights in hand…they felt hopeful a good compromise with district leaders will keep them with the district they’ve come to love, and away from a strike.
“I think their hearts are in the right place. I think they value education as much as any of us do,” said Anton.
- 10/16: Board met in closed session to talk about state of negotiations
- 10/21: Last scheduled negotiation session
- 10/21-10/27: If no deal is reached, more negotiation sessions can be called within this time frame
- 10/28: Strike date