Huntley school district, teachers reach tentative agreement on contract

  • MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY/mkrishnamurthy@dailyherald.com Huntley High School teacher Dennis Brown teaches criminal law to juniors and seniors on the first day of classes Aug. 26. Huntley Community School District 158 school board and the union representing nearly 700 teachers have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract.

    MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY/mkrishnamurthy@dailyherald.com Huntley High School teacher Dennis Brown teaches criminal law to juniors and seniors on the first day of classes Aug. 26. Huntley Community School District 158 school board and the union representing nearly 700 teachers have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract.

 
 
Updated 9/4/2015 5:48 PM

The Huntley school district and its teachers have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract after several mediation sessions, officials said Friday.

Details will not be released until both sides have ratified the contract, said Don Drzal, Huntley Community School District 158 school board president.

 

The current contract expired June 30. It included yearly step increases of 3.5 percent for each of the three years of the contract; teachers off the salary schedule received a 2 percent yearly increase.

Teachers are seeking higher, more competitive pay and help with health insurance costs to stem the tide of teachers leaving for neighboring districts. They also have asked district officials to share the burden of teachers' health insurance premium costs.

"The teachers' concern about health care was definitely addressed," Drzal said. "The district's concern about attracting and retaining quality personnel was also addressed. Through the negotiations we were both looking for a solid win in those categories, and I think both teams came away with that."

Drzal could not reveal how much of a financial impact those concessions would have on the district's budget.

"There is an impact on the district, but it's our job as trustees of the taxpayers to ensure that it is within reason and within budget, and it definitely is," he added.

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The teachers union ratified the contract Thursday night, said Cindy Rick, spokeswoman for the Huntley Education Association, which represents nearly 700 teachers.

"We're still waiting to completely finalize things," she said. "There's always concessions. There's always going to be compromise. I think it will help most people in the membership."

Class size and workload for special education teachers, which were among the issues being negotiated, also were addressed, Rick said.

"It was a long process," she said. "Everyone is just happy that there was a mutual agreement. We can now move on with the rest of the school year."

Unlike in 2008 when teachers went on strike for two days, the district's teachers and 9,600 students returned to classrooms Aug. 26.

The school board is expected to vote on the new contract Wednesday.

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