DECATUR, Ill (WCIA) — About two dozen teaching assistants rallied Tuesday night outside MacArthur High School in Decatur ahead of a school board meeting.
The Decatur Public School District 61 Board of Education met in closed session to discuss pay, discipline and personnel among other issues before opening the meeting to the public at 6:30 p.m.
For about 45 minutes ahead of the meeting, teaching assistants marched and chanted outside the school.
The meeting was highly anticipated as the district and union have been at odds since April.
Despite the marching and chanting teaching assistants that greeted attendees, the meeting had no fireworks.
One member of the community, a former school nurse, spoke in support of the TAs.
She challenged the board members and superintendent to spend a day with the teaching assistants.
The teaching assistants went on strike for three days at the end of October before returning to the classroom without a new contract.
While they were on the picket line, students with special needs were told to stay home, something the state board of education says violated federal law.
The district and union are scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. Thursday for mediation.
Jon Nadler, with the Decatur Teaching Assistants, says the union will continue to bargain in good faith.
“A member right now who has family insurance is bringing home a paycheck of about $400 a pay period,” he explained. “But, under the board’s proposal, that increasing family insurance would cut that paycheck to $200 a pay period.”
The district declined to comment.