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updated: 5/7/2014 5:39 PM

Dist. 23 teachers OK last two years of contract

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The teachers union in Prospect Heights Elementary District 23 has ratified a tentative deal that finalizes the existing employment contract.

All that remains for the deal to be approved is a vote by the District 23 school board, which is expected to happen at the board's regular meeting on Wednesday, May 14.

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The union and the board have declined to discuss specifics of the deal until it is fully approved. Dan Perillo, spokesman for the Prospect Heights Education Assocation, said Wednesday that the tentative deal is a compromise.

"We had to give up some things to get it done, and so did the district," he said. "Overall, I think all our members are happy to see this come to a conclusion."

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 compensation figures for the final two years. Teachers got a 3.2 percent pay raise in the first year of the contract, and no raise in the second.

Negotiations on the final two years of the deal began in February 2013.

Last summer, the district and the union agreed to enlist the help of a federal mediator. Earlier this year, though, both sides decided to move forward without the mediator. They reached the tentative agreement on April 23.

The existing contract expires on June 30, 2015. That means that, assuming this tentative deal is approved next week, both the union and the district will have a relatively short period of rest before talks begin on the next deal.

"Trying to finish a contract at the halfway point was challenging," Perillo said. "I think starting fresh on a brand-new deal will be somewhat easier, probably for both sides."

The District 23 school board meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 14, at MacArthur Middle School, 700 N. Schoenbeck Road, Prospect Heights.

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