CHAMPAIGN — There's little to no chance of a teachers strike at Champaign schools this year.
Following a marathon five-hour negotiating session with a federal mediator present Tuesday, the Champaign Federation of Teachers and the Unit 4 school board reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract. It was their 11th bargaining session over the proposed deal.
Union President Jen White said details of the contract will be brought to union members over the weekend prior to a ratification vote Tuesday.
"After about five hours of hard work tonight, going back and forth, we were able to reach what I think is a really good tentative agreement I can take back to my members after Thanksgiving," White said. "Over the weekend, we will work to get all the language to our members for their review. The team feels strongly that we've got a good deal."
School board President Chris Kloeppel said the board will likely hold a special meeting that Tuesday as well to formally approve the contract.
"Here's what we've accomplished this evening. We took what the CFT brought to us and considered all the feedback that we got from the community and from teachers," Kloeppel said. "We took that and put it all together."
Specific details of the contract will not be made public until after the two ratification votes.
"We started this process by making sure we were bargaining for a contract that respects and values our members, our students, our families and our community," White said.
At the coming union meeting, White said she would go over the contract in detail and answer any questions before members cast their ballots.
After union leaders tally the results, they will report them to the school board, White said.
Kloeppel said Tuesday's negotiations were very productive.
"We were able to make quite a bit of movement this evening. I think compromise was made on both sides," Kloeppel said. "We eagerly await the CFT's ratification vote next Tuesday, and the board, hopefully that night, will sign off on it as well. This is the culmination of a long process, and I am pleased we were able to get it done."
For the short term, the agreement means teachers will not be going on strike.
On Nov. 15, the union filed an intent-to-strike notice with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board and the school district.
Since the union had to wait 10 days following the filing to go on strike, Nov. 25 would be the earliest day one could start, with Nov. 26 being the first school day affected by a potential strike.
"I don't think anybody wants a strike," Kloeppel said. "It's very disruptive, and we have a lot of students in this district that would have been impacted negatively. The ability to avoid that is certainly the icing on the cake."
"I think we can take something back to our members on Tuesday that we can feel like we made a difference," White said. "We have reached a lot of our goals and the types of change we will make to the district."