On Sept. 3 members of the District Educators Council, the teachers union for School District 65, voted by a wide margin to reject a tentative agreement reached between negotiators for DEC and the School Board. Eighty-five percent of the teachers voted to reject the deal, sources told the RoundTable.

The tentative agreement had been reached on July 17, but was not put to a vote until teachers returned from summer vacation. Both sides have refused to disclose the terms of the tentative agreement, citing an agreement to maintain its confidentiality.

School District 65 issued a press release on Sept. 5 stating that the School Board was surprised and disappointed by DEC’s vote. School Board President Mary Erickson said in the press release that the tentative agreement provided the richest salary increases that the School Board has ever proposed since the inception of tax caps in 1994.

Ms. Erickson said, “We stretched our resources because we recognized that we were modestly increasing the length of the school day for our students’ benefit, and when we stretched this far, DEC expressed its team’s unanimous support and stated that it would unanimously recommend the tentative agreement to its membership.”

DEC issued a press release on Sept. 9 stating that members of DEC voted “overwhelmingly” to reject the tentative agreement. The press release added, “Before resuming negotiations with the School Board, the DEC Negotiations Team will survey DEC members as to what they want to see in a new agreement with the school district. The District 65 Educator’s Council is committed to negotiating a fair and affordable contract that the DEC membership can support.”

Negotiations between the School Board and the negotiating team for DEC become strained earlier in the summer when the School Board sent a letter dated June 10 directly to teachers, summarizing the Board’s “final offer” and saying the DEC bargaining team rejected the offer.

The Board’s June 10 letter told teachers the Board offered to increase the teacher salary schedule by about 5.7 percent each year. DEC’s negotiating team maintained that the effective pay increase was less than one percent per year because the Board was insisting that the teacher’s workday increase by about five percent.

It is unclear how these and other issues were addressed in the tentative agreement reached by the negotiating teams on July 17 and rejected by members of DEC on Sept. 3.

On Sept. 3, Ms. Millard told the RoundTable that DEC is still gathering feedback from its members. Ms. Erickson said no date has been set to continue negotiations.