MAHOMET, Ill. (WCIA) – The Mahomet-Seymour Education Association (MSEA) voted “overwhelmingly” to authorize a strike Wednesday night, according to an Illinois Education Association news release.

They haven’t set a strike date yet, but said it means MSEA leaders now have the authority to call one if a fair contract cannot be reached.

“We’d much rather be in our schools and classrooms with our students, not out on the picket line. The last thing we want to do is go on strike, but we’re willing to do whatever it takes to do right by our students,” MSEA spokesperson Cam Zindars said in the release.

Negotiations between MSEA and the Mahomet Seymour School District 3 Board of Education (BOE) have been going on for five months. They said that includes several “federally-mediated sessions.” The BOE initiated the public posting process after declaring an impasse last week, according to the release. They also said MSEA has been working without a contract since the end of June.

The release lists four unsolved issues: class size, plan time, safety and workload and compensation.

“We are continually being asked to do more work for less money. We’ve all seen the news, there is a teacher and support staff shortage in this state. If the board gets its way, we will continue to lose experienced educators and talented, new teachers and staff to neighboring districts,” Zindars said in the release. “We have to do better for our students. In light of the national school safety concerns, we’re asking for an administrator presence in all of our buildings. We need to make sure educators have plan time and small class sizes so our students get the best education possible. Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. We are fighting to protect our students’ right to a high-quality public education.”

Mahomet-Seymour Board of Education President Max McComb provided a written statement. It reads: “We have learned this evening via various media outlets that the MSEA membership has taken a vote that has authorized a strike. There is a legal process to be followed before any strike could occur. The Board of Education remains hopeful that a contract will be ratified prior to a work stoppage occurring.”