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updated: 4/30/2014 4:06 PM

Prospect Hts. teachers, school board reach tentative deal

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Teachers in Prospect Heights Elementary District 23 have reached a tentative agreement with the school board on the last two years of a four-year contract first approved in 2011, officials said.

The Prospect Heights Education Association is expected to vote on the deal Thursday. If the union ratifies the contract, the school board will vote on it at its May 14 meeting.

"We're excited about this," said Mari-Lynn Peters, president of the District 23 school board. "We hope the union members give it a positive vote."

Union representatives could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The district is not releasing contract details until the deal is formally approved.

The agreement finalizes the last two years of a four-year deal approved in 2011. The district's financial picture was uncertain then, so the union and the district agreed to meet at the halfway point to renegotiate the final two years.

The union and the district began negotiations roughly a year ago. In August, both sides agreed to enlist a federal mediator to help with the talks. In a bit of bad luck that delayed talks, the federal government shut down for more than two weeks last fall, making the mediator unavailable during that time.

Peters said talks became more productive in 2014. Eventually, both sides agreed to stop using a mediator, she said. The tentative agreement was reached after a five-hour bargaining session on April 23.

"It was a longer process than I expected, even without the shutdown," Peters said, noting it was the first contract session she'd gone through as a school board member. "But now at the end I feel I have much better insight into the union's perspective."

The current contract is set to expire on June 30, 2015.

District 23 educates about 1,500 students at three elementary schools and one middle school.

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