D300 contract awaits board approval

Hundreds of teachers laid off from Community Unit District 300 earlier this year could return to work in the fall under a new contract between the teachers union and school board.

Members of the Local Education Association of District 300, or LEAD 300, the union that represents about 1,250 teachers, voted in favor of the one-year contract Tuesday. The agreement now awaits ratification by the school board. A special board meeting is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, in the Professional Development Center at Westfield Community School, 2100 Sleepy Hollow Road, Algonquin.

The agenda for the special meeting also includes resolutions to recall tenured and nontenured teachers, as well as administrators.

“This is the first step toward working closer with the district to better the education we provide and to make the education stronger for our students,” LEAD 300 Communications Chairman Mike Williamson said. “When we talk about balancing the budget, the point is to make sure we have the facilities and resources we need to do the things we need to do, whether they are human resources or other resources.”

Williamson said more than 900 votes were cast Tuesday.

Details of the contract will not be released until both sides have ratified the contract. But union representatives said they hope the agreement will restore the hundreds of teaching and administrative positions eliminated earlier this year, while also avoiding an unpopular proposal to reorganize secondary school schedules.

“We have been told that if the union and the board both ratify the agreement that the district would bring back the 363, or the number that are still available because some have taken positions in other districts,” Williamson said.

The district had requested $5.2 million in wage and benefit concessions from the teachers union, as part of a plant to overcome an $8.3 million budget deficit in the upcoming school year.

But Williamson said in the end, about $3.5 million in concessions were made by the union.

In March, the school board approved $3.1 million in program and teacher reductions, which included laying off 363 teachers and administrators.

District leaders said the layoffs were needed to allow for the reorganization of secondary schools, which would save the district up to $4.5 million while also improving the education program.