Edwardsville teachers picket over new contract, upset about class size limits
Around 200 teachers and a handful of parents protested before the Edwardsvill School Board meeting last night.
Frustrated by the latest contract offer they received from district officials, teachers could announce plans to strike later this month.
Edwardsville Education Association Co-President Dave Boedeker said they are especially concerned about clauses in their contract that they say could open the door to larger classes.
“A teacher could go from having maybe one class of 34 and the rest being in the twenties, to they could give you five classes of 34, if they want,” Boedeker said.
Many parents have echoed the concerns of teachers.
Elise Rebmann said her family moved move here from St Louis in part because of the good schools.
“It’s just the end of class size limits, and we’re a premiere school district because we have these limits in our teacher contract,” Rebmann said. “This is the whole reason everyone lives here. And, so, we are just throwing our hands up and saying, ‘hey, listen, this is real important to us as community members.’”
As for the district, it’s facing a budget shortfall of close to $3 million.
Later, during a packed school board meeting, Superintendent Ed Hightower told parents and teachers that increased class sizes are part of cuts that are needed to maintain the long-term financial stability of the district.
“We cannot mortgage the future of the school district when the economic outlook is so grim,” Hightower said, often glaring at audience members who shouted back at him during his presentation.
Hightower said that with the exception of performing arts and physical education, class size could not exceed 34 students in their offer to teachers.