Classes canceled through Thursday for Proviso High School District 209 students due to teachers strike

Teachers of Proviso High School District 209 returned to the picket line Tuesday. 

On strike since Friday, Mar. 4, they are demanding a new contract – one that includes increased pay and smaller class sizes.

Tuesday marked the seventh day of cancelled classes amid ongoing negotiations between the Proviso Teachers Union (PTU) and district officials.

With no agreement on the table yet, teachers made their voices heard during Tuesday night’s regular board meeting.

"We stand ready to bargain every day, we would have liked to have a deal before we even went on strike. This is a last resort for us," said Maggie Riley, Proviso Teachers Union president.

The union is asking for a pay increase of 12.75 percent over three years. 

District leaders have offered a nine percent increase over three years. It's a gap to bridge of more than $1 million between the two sides.

"It’s a shame that we have so many teachers who put in 10, 15 years over here and in today’s economy, they can’t afford to be here, so they move a block that way for $20,000 more," said Satyam Contractor, Proviso West special education teacher.

Tuesday, educators from Proviso West, Proviso East and Proviso Math and Science Academy gathered for a rally and caravan ahead of the board meeting.

"I want the district to know we have absolutely quality teachers here, and we need to keep them here," said Contractor.

"There is an extreme disparity between the average teacher salary and the average administrator salary. It’s a $100,000 difference. That makes no sense. How much do you value the people who are with your children every day," said Micaela Soto, District 209 parent and teacher.


During Tuesday night’s meeting, which became heated, district officials commented on the strike:

"We were hopeful the PTU would agree to our reasonable proposal for a cooling-off period. Our students would have been the winners and neither side would have lost," said Rodney Alexander, school board president.

District officials announced Monday that classes are canceled through Thursday, Mar. 17.

Formal negotiations with a federal mediator are set to resume at 9 a.m. on Thursday.