Cahokia Teachers Turn Down Contract Offer

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CAHOKIA, IL (KTVI) -- Public school teachers turned down a contract offer from the   Cahokia School District Thursday and asked their negotiators to go back to the  bargaining table.

The district faces difficult financial issues.  Illinois cut its state aid to Cahokia this year by eleven percent.  Supt. Art Ryan expects health insurance fees to climb by 300-thousand dollars in 2012.

Ryan said the district board wants to delay the beginning of school until after Labor Day so students and staff won't be distracted by the possibility of a strike.

Dave Comerford, a spokesman for the union said teachers think students should start on time on August 22.  The teachers have not determined the disagreement has reached an impasse and they have not voted to strike.

"It would maybe be different if there was a threat and a real concern that a strike was going to start, but again you settle these things at the table. The start of school is not going to affect whether a settlement is achieved or not," said Comerford.

Supt. Ryan pointed to the last strike in 2007 that occurred two weeks after school began.  "We basically had six weeks of school that was sort of lost time because it was in out, in out.  Our kids need all the education time we can get them."

The Cahokia School Board held a public forum Thursday night to discuss the delay in the start of school.  Neither side would talk about details of their negotiations under a previous agreement.
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