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D158, teachers ‘work very amicably’ on contract

Updated: October 19, 2012 6:12AM

HUNTLEY — The Huntley Education Association continues to “work very amicably” toward a new contract with Huntley School District 158, according to Julie McLaughlin, co-president of the teachers union.

That follows comments last week from both Community Unit School District 300 and its Local Educators Association of District 300 (LEAD) that both sides in the Carpentersville-area district continue to meet with a federal negotiator.

And it comes as the Chicago teachers strike continues into its second week.

Teachers in suburban Prairie Grove Consolidated School District 46 in Crystal Lake, Lake Forest High School District 115, Argo Community High School District 217 in Summit and Evergreen Park School District 124 all also reportedly filed strike notices this month.

“We are definitely bargaining in good faith. A strike is not something that we’re entertaining right now,” McLaughlin said.

The Huntley teachers union, which has more than 625 members, had rejected a tentative agreement with District 158 earlier this month, but representatives hope to meet again with the district this week, she said.

Its previous one-year contract ended June 30 after a “hard freeze for a year,” she said, and the two sides have bargained “pretty much all summer.” Neither has filed for mediation, she said.

There are a “couple different issues we still need to iron out,” the co-president said, although she declined to comment on specific issues. The school district did not return calls from The Courier-News seeking comment.

Other local contracts

Teachers in Elgin School District U46 also had voted against a contract this spring before approving an agreement that runs through 2013 to end more than a year of negotiations, its longest ever. Most notably, that contract created a Transformation Task Force of teachers and administrators to look at how the school day in the state’s second-largest school district is structured.

U46 and the Elgin Teachers Association had filed for mediation during those negotiations, and teachers had hosted a “grade-in” before one school board meeting. ETA President Kathryn Castle had said the union’s bargaining team took the first tentative agreement to its members as soon as the issue of “time” arose in negotiations.

But locally, it is the Elgin Community College Faculty Association that has come closest to striking in recent years.

The union hammered out an agreement with the college in an April 2011 bargaining meeting that had lasted more than 12 hours and ended at 5 a.m., just days before faculty legally could have walked out on strike. Pay had been an issue for the community college and its union.

District 300’s LEAD has continuously pointed to high class sizes as a sticking point in its ongoing negotiations. District officials also would like to lower class sizes, school board spokesperson Joe Stevens has said; the issue is finding the money in its already tight budget to do so.

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