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D-300, LEAD 300 reach tentative agreement; school resumes Wednesday

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ALGONQUIN – District 300 teachers have reached a tentative teacher contract agreement tonight after hours of negotiations at Westfield Community School.

LEAD 300, the teachers' union, posted the development on its Facebook page at 9 p.m.

Classes will resume Wednesday, the district posted on its website, www.d300.org.

Negotiators for the school board and LEAD 300 had met for nearly eight hours Monday to reach a tentative deal. However, the talks failed, which led to Tuesday's strike.

Earlier Tuesday, classes were canceled as teachers went on strike, asking for lower class sizes and higher pay.

Jacobs High School teachers were out of the classroom and in picket lines Tuesday.

Sally Stricker was among a group of teachers marching up Randall Road in Algonquin, cheering as passing cars gave honks of approval.

“We are fighting for lower class sizes. That's the bottom line,” she said. Stricker is a special education teacher at Jacobs and said that lowering class sizes will ultimately benefit the students.

“We need to keep in mind what's best for the kids,” she said. “We feel (the school board's) proposal is not in the best interest for the kids.

“We would like to resolve this as soon as possible. We are sorry it has come to this. It's an unfortunate thing that we feel that we've had to do.”

Stricker noted that her ideal class size would be around 25 or 26, but the union is still trying to work out the exact number.

The district board and union leaders will meet at 3 p.m. today inside Westfield Community School to continue negotiations and try to limit the strike to one day, a LEAD 300 press release states.

Sarah Kapitan is a Spanish teacher at Jacobs and said instead of looking for an average class size, the teachers need a cap on the number of students.

“We're not looking for an average in our contract. We'd like to have a cap,” Kapitan said.

“With an average you could have a class of 16 and a class of 45. You can't do the kind of things with a class of 45 that you can with a class of 16.”

In Carpentersville hundreds of District 300 teachers marched at Carpenter Park. But parent of two Cutis Flint was not in favor of the strike.

"I have a five and eight-year-old crying because they couldn't go to school today," Flint said. "They say they care about the kids? I don't believe it.

"The teachers walked out on the kids today."

William Nangle is the father of two District 300 students and marched at Carpenter Park in support of the teachers, although he wished a deal could have been reached.

“This could have been prevented,” he said. “This could have been resolved before today.

“Having a smaller teacher to student ratio certainly gives the boys a benefit because the teachers are able to give them more personal attention,” Nangle said.

Wojtek Czyz is a senior at Jacobs and stopped by to support the teachers Tuesday.

“It's nice to be out of school and all,” he said. “It's nice having a day off, especially to get something done for the teachers. They have families to support too.”

Czyz said that he has around 40 kids in his English class and would enjoy a smaller class size.

“Some of my classes are a bit too big,” he said. “My English class, there's way too many people there. So I'm glad they're striking.”

Fellow senior Mick Gehr said that his class sizes have actually come down since last year, but the numbers still aren't ideal.

“They're still big. I may just be getting used to it at this point.”

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