Teachers in Mount Olive Ill. are going on strike Monday morning.
The dispute between teachers and the board of education in the small town about 50 miles north east of St. Louis hinges on salary, retirement benefits and health insurance.
“We’ve bargained through the terms of an expired contract through last August and this is the point it’s come to,” said Marcus Albrecht, regional director for the Illinois Education Association.
A key sticking point is teacher pay in their last four years of employment.
The teachers union wants to maintain a six percent pay increase to save for retirement over a teacher's last four years of service.
In Contrast, Mount Olive Superintendent Patrick Murphy said that under cuts in state funding and declining enrollment district revenue has dropped by about 20 percent over the past three years.
With less money coming in, Murphy said the district can only afford a two percent increase.
“We’re trying to keep fiscally responsible and keep our finances in order,” Murphy said. “By going along with the amount of money the union is requesting, we could not maintain that.”
The teachers union disagrees and said by giving educators a six percent increase over their last four years of work it will encourage higher paid employees to retire, saving the district money in the long-term.
The Mount Olive School District has a total enrollment of about 540 students and 39 teachers.