Why District 204 teachers will start year under old contract

 
 

Negotiating teams trying to reach an agreement on a new teachers contract in Indian Prairie Unit District 204 won't return to the bargaining table until August -- just weeks before classes are scheduled to resume on Aug. 20.

Scheduling conflicts among teachers, administrators and union representatives will make it nearly impossible for contract talks to resume before then, officials said.

"Our intention is to meet in early August for final resolution," school board member Justin Karubas said. "We're fully confident we're going to reach an agreement."

School board members thought they had wrapped up negotiations this spring when they reached a tentative agreement for a two-year pact with leaders of the Indian Prairie Education Association.

But the district's roughly 2,000 teachers voted in May to overwhelmingly reject the tentative agreement and send both sides back to the table.

The rejected deal would have given teachers raises in each of the next two years, but also would have eliminated post-retirement insurance and the 6 percent raises teachers generally receive in their last years of employment.

Paul Gamboa, president of the teachers union, said constraints of his own schedule are part of the reason continued negotiations have to wait another month or so. He'll be out of town for two weeks in July at functions of the Illinois Education Association.

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School board President Lori Price confirmed mid-August is a likely starting time for further meetings between negotiating teams for the district and the union.

Once the sides reach another tentative agreement, it must be approved by teachers in votes taken at each school building. Gamboa said those votes will be much easier to coordinate once school is back in session.

"You wish it could be sooner, but frankly we can't ratify anything over the summer anyway," Gamboa said.

The current contract effectively expired on June 8. Had the earlier proposal been approved, it would have taken effect July 1.

The delay in talks means teachers likely will start the year working under the terms of the previous pact. But if all goes well, both sides say they hope to have a new deal shortly after school begins.

"We will begin negotiating before the school year starts for sure," Gamboa said.

District 204 serves roughly 28,500 students in portions of Naperville, Aurora, Plainfield and Bolingbrook.

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