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Article posted: 11/14/2012 1:27 PM

Dist. 158 reaches tentative contract agreement

By Larissa Chinwah

The Huntley Education Association and the board of education have reached a tentative agreement, but details are being withheld until teachers vote on the contract. That vote will take place on Monday.

Initially, the school board sent a release late Tuesday evening stating the teachers union had declared an impasse. Several hours later, the union said a tentative agreement had been reached.

"The District 158 Board of Education has received notice that the Huntley Education Association has declared impasse," the first news release said. "The board believes that both sides want to reach a compromise that is beneficial for the staff, students, and taxpayers of District 158."

Board spokesman Don Drzal said the impasse was declared at the same time board and union members were scrambling to organize a meeting on Tuesday.

"It was all done in parallel," Drzal said.

But Julie McLaughlin, co-president of the union, said the two sides had agreed on Tuesday to meet Wednesday evening. In essence, the meeting was prearranged and not called as a result of the impasse.

The last time the two sides met was Oct. 10.

"We weren't sure of the outcome of the meeting," McLaughlin said, explaining why an impasse was called before Tuesday's meeting.

"We are just very pleased that the two sides were able to come together to put together a contract," McLaughlin said.

The latest tentative agreement is the third agreement the two sides have presented to union members in three months. The first was voted down in September and the second in mid-October. At that time, teachers gave the union leadership permission to call a strike, if needed. The results of the strike vote were "overwhelming," union leaders said.

Reasons for the union members' rejection of the previous two agreements were not disclosed, but union leaders said they were "looking for a fair contract."

A news release from the board on Tuesday said language issues had been resolved and that the remaining issues were primarily compensation. Still, Drzal declined to disclose details of the latest agreement.

"We listened to what teachers wanted and their latest bargaining team they brought to the table was very clear on what could be ratified," Drzal said. "It was a very collaborative experience and very positive."

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