Dear Parents/Guardians and Students:
July 1st, 2020 marked my first day on the job for BESD #53. At that moment, I inherited the monumental task of ensuring that all BESD #53 students experienced the least negative impact possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowing that we have safely managed to provide in-person learning this year for our students, staff, and families makes me extremely proud of BESD #53.
When I joined the District, the Board of Education made decisions to ensure that my attention and energy was focused on providing a safe educational environment for our students and staff this year. One such decision was that I would not be at the table for contract negotiations that had been ongoing with the District’s teachers (Bourbonnais Education Association-BEA) since March of 2020. The Board of Education ensured that my focus of managing our return to learn plans was never hindered. The idea was to keep the two matters separate from each other.
Unfortunately, it appears that negotiations with the BEA might disrupt our ability to continue providing school for our students. As you may have read, the BEA initiated the pre-strike process with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board on January 22, 2021. Based on that action, the BEA could take employees out on strike as early as February 19, 2021.
Although I am hopeful that future negotiating sessions between the Board of Education and the BEA will result in an agreement, the District must prepare for the possibility of a teacher strike.
While I wish I was able to keep the schools open in the event of a strike, we cannot remain open and properly follow our COVID-19 safety protocols that have allowed us to keep our students and staff safe during this school year. Therefore, in the event of a strike, parents will have to make alternative arrangements for their children. All schools would be closed to students and the majority of employees. There will be no classes, practices, competitions, club meetings, school-sponsored events, or community activities at any District schools. Students enrolled at private placement facilities, however, will continue to attend those facilities, and the District will continue to provide transportation if possible.
Rest assured, should a strike occur, we fully intend to make up any school days for our students this summer as any additional loss of instructional time for our students this year is wholly unacceptable.
I remain positive about the outcome of this process because of the shared commitment to work, with mutual respect, toward adoption of a new contract that will serve our teachers, our community, and our students well. I would also like to acknowledge our shared appreciation for the substantial contributions of our teachers to the quality education of our students.
Timely updates on any important developments will be posted on the District’s website at https://www.besd53.org/.
Dr. Adam Ehrman
Superintendent of BESD #53