Trico Teachers on Strike

Trico Teachers on Strike
By: Carly O'Keefe
CAMPBELL HILL, IL --Teachers at Trico School District in Campbell Hill were out of the classroom Monday and instead on the picket line. The Trico District and the teachers union have so far been unable to come to terms on a new contract.
"The reality is that we don't have to be here. We feel we could've come to terms on the two year contract, but the board was insisting on a third year for the contract and that was the sticking point we couldn't get passed,” said Trico sixth-grade teacher Kathryn Kuhnert. 
Until the dispute is resolved, school is out at the Trico School District. The buses remain parked in the lot, and the teachers stand in the front lawn picketing for answers.
“We'll be here every day until this is taken care of,” Kuhnert said.
“The strike has been somewhat confusing to the board and we worked late last night and we thought we had an agreement on the health insurance language,” said Trico Board of Education President Brian Chapman.
The school district and teachers union have been unable to agree about a health insurance cap. The Trico Board of Education wants to freeze what the district pays for health insurance for the next three years. That means if insurance costs go up beyond this year's premium, teachers will pay the difference.
"The teachers have made a lot of concessions in recent years because our district was having financial difficulty, the district has in fact turned the corner but they're still asking for concessions,” said Kuhnert.
School board members believe Trico teachers are well compensated and the three-year insurance cap isn't out of line.
“When you look at they have 100% board-paid retirement, 100% board-paid health insurance, and we still pay 55% of dependent health insurance, it really can’t get any better than that. If you look at other school districts, I think you’ll find us comparable,” said Chapman.
The one thing both parties agree on is the hope that they can quickly resolve this dispute.
"We have a huge concern about our students and the disruption this will cause in their school year. We want to get this settled as quickly as possible so we can get back to the business of education, our students can get back to the business of learning, and life can go on as it's supposed to,” said Kuhnert.
“In the end it's their strike to call and it's their strike to stop. The board is ready to meet at any time. We have not declared an impasse and as soon as they're ready to respond to that, we'll be there,” said Chapman.
The last time teachers went on strike in the Trico Community School District was 25 years ago.