District 121 teachers, board reach tentative deal to avoid strike
Representatives from the Warren Township High School District 121 teachers union and the school board reached a tentative agreement at 12:30 a.m. Thursday after another daylong negotiation session, virtually ending the chance of a teachers strike.
Over the next few weeks, both the union and the school board will have to ratify the new contract.
Superintendent John Ahlgrim said Thursday morning that the new agreement is for five years, but the rest of the details wouldn't be immediately available to the public.
"We're really happy about it," Ahlgrim said. "Obviously it has taken a long time, but I think it's an agreement that is going to be very good for the district and the teachers."
Matthew Beverly, a field service director with the Lake County Federation of Teachers, said he too thought the deal worked for both sides and will allow the district to retain and attract high quality teachers and staff.
"It's a great thing, it's been a long process, right around 14 months, one of the longest in my career," Beverly said. "We had a lot of work to do but we believe we got it done."
Teachers in the district have been working without a contract since June 30.
In the past, certified teachers and classified staff each had their own contracts with the district. One reason the negotiations took so long was because both groups were being combined into a single contract.
"I look forward to getting the deal to them in the coming weeks and I think everybody's happy at this point," Beverly said.
Beverly said he felt the negotiations were conducted in good faith from both sides from beginning to end.
"I'm very proud of both (school) board leadership and union leadership in working together over a period of time to listen to each other very well and take the time to do the right thing," Ahlgrim said.
Last month the teachers union initiated the public posting process mandated for a possible strike. State law requires the teachers union to wait a minimum of 28 days to strike after officially starting the process, so in theory a strike could have started as soon as this week.