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D-300, teachers union reach contract deal; strike ends

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(Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com)
District 300 teachers were out of the classroom Tuesday and in picket lines off Randall Road near Jacobs High School in Algonquin.

CARPENTERSVILLE – Negotiators for the District 300 school board and the district’s teachers union, LEAD 300, reached a tentative deal late Tuesday after a six-hour bargaining session.

The district’s tentative agreement with LEAD 300 for a three-year contract spelled an end to the one-day teachers’ strike that canceled classes Tuesday.

Classes resume today.

Joe Stevens, a school board member and spokesman for the district throughout the contract negotiations, issued a statement recognizing “the amount of public input we have received on these incredibly important issues.”

“Your support for our efforts and for the learning environment was impressive,” he said. “It is clear that we all share a mutual concern for our students’ success.”

Details of the tentative agreement will not be released by either side until the agreement is ratified by the LEAD 300 membership and approved by the school board, which is anticipated to take place “no sooner than December 18,” Stevens’ statement said.

LEAD 300 spokesman Michael Williamson also released a statement about the tentative deal.

He said details of the agreement will not be made public until after the union updates its membership.

“We believe the agreement that was reached is fair to teachers and responsible to the taxpayers of the community.... We will release the specifics within the next several days.”

The two sides had met for nearly eight hours Monday to try to reach a tentative deal but ultimately couldn’t avert a strike. They met again Tuesday afternoon in Westfield Community School to limit the strike to one day.

Before the afternoon session, LEAD 300 spokesman Mike Williamson said the board intended to stand by its most recent proposal made during the failed Monday meeting. The union sent a point-by-point rebuttal on the offer to members late last night.

It shows that the union and district were at odds over a 1 percentage point increase to teachers’ base pay, along with failing to agree on how far to lower class sizes.

The 1 percent salary difference and the disagreement on where to cap classes aligns with the ongoing debate over compensation and class sizes that has dominated the yearlong negotiation between the two sides.

Teachers donning black and white LEAD 300 shirts marched and picketed outside various district schools Tuesday.

More than 500 hundred teachers demonstrated along Carpenter Park, near Parkview Elementary in Carpentersville.

Teacher Sally Stricker joined her Jacobs High School colleagues, marching up Randall Road in Algonquin Tuesday morning and cheering passing cars, many of which honked in approval.

“We are fighting for lower class sizes,” said Stricker, a special education teacher. “That’s the bottom line.”

Jacobs students also used their day off from school to show support for their teachers. Senior Wojtek Czyz said he supports teachers’ motives behind the strike.

“It’s nice having a day off, especially to get something done for the teachers,” Czyz said. “They have families to support, too.”

But the weekday strike also forced parents to figure out ways to care for their children. Curtis Flint, who has two children going to district schools, doubted the teachers’ intentions.

“I have a five- and eight-year-old crying today 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.”

• Northwest Herald reporter Stephen Di Benedetto contributed to this report.

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