Wildcat Chronicle

Association and board reach tentative agreement

West+Chicago+Teachers%27+Association+members%2C+students%2C+and+community+members+march+to+the+district+office+on+Thursday.
West Chicago Teachers' Association members, students, and community members march to the district office on Thursday.

West Chicago Teachers' Association members, students, and community members march to the district office on Thursday.

Photo by Mayeli Vivaldo

Photo by Mayeli Vivaldo

West Chicago Teachers' Association members, students, and community members march to the district office on Thursday.

By Mayeli Vivaldo, Editor in chief

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After nearly two years of negotiating, the West Chicago Teachers’ Association and Board of Education reached a tentative agreement on Thursday.

While a bargaining session occurred on Thursday, Association members, students, and community members waited in the cafeteria at school for the results.

“I think there was a great deal of suspense. People were very concerned about what would happen and were very anxious to hear the results,” president of the Association Brad Larson said.

The bargaining team returned to school just after 10 p.m.

The Association and board started teacher contract negotiations in April 2016. Teachers had been working without a contract since the start of the school year.

The Association voted to strike on Friday if no agreement was reached from Thursday’s bargaining session.

“There was no doubt that we were absolutely ready if the bargaining team came back and said ‘We don’t have an agreement’ to be on the picketing line this morning (Friday),” Larson said. “Everybody is very happy not to be on strike and to be here working with our students and continuing to serve the community. We’re glad we can do our jobs.”

Although an agreement has been reached, there are some steps left before an official contract is put in place.

“There are some details that have to be reviewed and confirmed, but the deal is done. Some sitting down and checking the numbers (will happen),” Larson said. “It will, sometime in the next few days, be presented to the Association and to the school board. Both sides will have to vote to ratify it. Once it’s ratified, it is a contract.”

No official date has been set for when the Association and board will vote and ratify the agreement.

Although the bargaining journey was long and difficult, the Association believes it helped the members become closer.

“I think there is a greater sense of unity and purpose. I think there also is a greater sense of connection between the teachers in our district and the students and members of our community,” Larson said.

The Association is very thankful for the support they received from students and community members.

“We want to express our very deep gratitude. There was an overwhelming amount of support from the community and students. Having that support was incredibly important to us being able to achieve what we achieved,” Larson said. “We think that that level of community involvement should be a downpayment on continuing to work to maintain and improve the quality of education and experience of the students here at our school.”

Because an agreement has been reached, all clubs and after-school activities that were suspended are now resumed.

Teachers will also no longer work to terms.

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Association and board reach tentative agreement