West Chicago District 94 teacher contract talks resume
Face-to-face contract negotiations between teachers and administrators at West Chicago's Community High School are scheduled to resume Sunday afternoon, union and school board members said.
Tony Molinaro, one of three board members on the district's negotiating team, said the two sides "are getting closer" to an agreement after nearly 11 months of talks.
Teachers union President Kristina Mallon agreed.
"I think we're very close," she said Friday morning. "It's just a matter of talking through the final issues."
The union's four-year contract expired Aug. 22 and teachers have been working since that time under provisions of the earlier agreement. The two sides have been meeting with a federal mediator for months.
Members of the West Chicago High School Teachers Association last week filed a notice of an impasse in negotiations with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.
On Wednesday, both sides submitted what they called their "best, last and final offer" to the same board. If no agreement is reached, those offers will be posted on the labor board's website at www2.illinois.gov/elrb by Jan. 25.
Neither side would say whether that Jan. 25 date helped spark the latest round of talks.
"The good news is both sides are meeting face-to-face and we want to get things done," Molinaro said.
Mallon said she's hopeful Sunday's session "will be productive and we'll reach a resolution soon. I think both parties are dedicated to reaching a consensus and a settlement for the teachers."
That's a change from a week ago when the union declared the impasse and its lead negotiator, Amy Gibson, said there had been "a drastic change in what had been a collaborative relationship in the past."
On Friday, Mallon said the school was completing finals week that included a special Tuesday tutoring session that featured roughly 50 teachers working with students.
She said teachers have done their best to shield students from the contract talks.
"I can't say enough about the professionalism and dedication of the teachers at our school and their dedication to our students," she said.
The union represents 138 members who serve roughly 2,150 students from West Chicago, Winfield, Carol Stream, Warrenville and unincorporated areas near Wheaton.
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