Harrisburg teachers vote no pay increase to get jobs back

By Julia Bruck - bioemail

HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) - For months, we have told you about layoffs at schools across Illinois. In less than an hour, the Harrisburg School Board is expected to vote on a contract that would give some teachers their jobs back.  The money is not for the State of Illinois, but out of the pockets of other Harrisburg teachers.

It is a site you do not expect on a summer afternoon, dozens of teachers walking out of Harrisburg Middle School. They gathered to help solve a problem, how to bring back ten teachers laid off last spring.

The Harrisburg school board and local teachers union came up with a solution. However to move it forward, union members had to vote on the contract.

"We reached an agreement that all our teachers would retain their position and the programs would come back and we would push back our raises for a year," Gabe Angelly, Harrisburg Education Association President said.

Angelly says it is an accomplished for all involved, but especially for the students.

"We had to do something to retain our teachers and our programs because in the end the kids suffer," Angelly said.

Harrisburg Superintendent Dennis Smith says, if the school board approves the contract, the district will have the same numbers of teachers and programs as last year.

"We're talking music is coming back, agriculture is coming back, art is coming back, exploratory at the middle school is coming back," Smith said.

At Eastside Intermediate School in Harrisburg, the goodbyes of last school year remain on the chalkboard and boxes fill the room. But come fall, many hellos are expected in the classroom, as students and their once laid off teacher return. Still Smith warns if Illinois continues to delay payment the district could face the same problem again.

"If though by next January and February this problem doesn't have some sort of solution coming out of Springfield, then what happened a couple of months ago in this school district, will happen next spring," Smith said.

The Harrisburg school board must also approve the contract.  It is a vote Smith says he expects the board to take at its 7 p.m. meeting Wednesday.

Copyright 2010 KFVS. All rights reserved.