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Article updated: 2/13/2013 3:35 PM

West Chicago teachers ratify 3-year contract

By Marie Wilson

Teachers in West Chicago Elementary District 33 have approved the tentative contract reached after last week's three-day strike, a union representative said Wednesday.

A majority of members of the Elementary Teachers Association of West Chicago voted Tuesday to ratify the tentative three-year agreement and send the document to the school board for approval, said Mary Catherine Kosmach, who served as chief union negotiator during more than 16 months of talks.

School board Secretary Dave Barclay has said the board intends to approve the contract at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21.

The contract is a three-year agreement retroactive to Sept. 1, 2012. The union's 284 teachers agreed to freeze salaries for the first year of the contract, and the school board agreed to delay changes in health insurance until its second year begins.

Other details of the agreement are not yet available, but Barclay said the contract will be posted on the district's website once it receives final approval.

Reaching agreement took more than a year as the two sides struggled to find consensus on salaries, health insurance, retirement provisions, class sizes and teacher appraisal methods.

The union filed an intent to strike notice late last year, but talks continued. In early January, the school board set a deadline of Feb. 21 to come to an agreement. When talks broke down Feb. 3, teachers announced they would begin walking picket lines the next day.

The strike lasted three days, leaving roughly 4,000 students without their regular classes.

The school board at its Feb. 21 meeting also will review the school calendar and consider when to make up days missed because of the strike.

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