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Hundreds rally for Peoria Public Schools teachers working without a current contract

Tim Shelley
More than 800 teachers rallied for a new contract outside the Peoria Public Schools administration building ahead of Monday night's school board meeting.

A federal mediator working to hash out a new contract between Peoria Public Schools and the Peoria Federation of Teachers is set to arrive later this month.

Several hundred teachers and others rallied outside the district's administration building ahead of Monday night's school board meeting.

The teacher's union is requesting federal mediation of its contract talks with the district after nineteen bargaining sessions ended without a resolution. Teachers began working the new school year without a current contract.

Matt McCaw is a Peoria High School math teacher and head of the union's bargaining committee.

"Our teachers will run through a brick wall for students, but more and more and more has been put on their plates, more programs," McCaw said. "And there's just so much frustration in our district. The joy of teaching has almost been extinguished for many in our district, and that's a sad thing to say."

Some of the major sticking points in the talks include teacher salaries, class sizes, and student discipline issues.

The federal mediator is now expected to meet with both parties on Aug. 23.

McCaw said he's optimistic.

"I think we can get this done. I mean, I know there's an end. At some point we're going to get a contract done," he said. "And I hope the mediation process is what sparks us to get done."

Peoria Public Schools administration hasn't commented on the status of the bargaining talks.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.