Negotiating teams for the District 65 School Board and the District Educators Council (DEC, the teachers’ union) reached a tentative agreement at 7 a.m. on Nov. 6 after working through the night in the second of two lengthy bargaining sessions with a federal mediator. Details of the agreement have not been disclosed.

A press release issued by DEC said teachers would be informed of the terms of the tentative agreement on Nov. 10. Under DEC’s bylaws, a vote to accept or reject the deal may not be taken until 72 hours after the informational meeting.

Since the beginning of the school year, teachers have been working without a contract. Pat Markham, the School Board’s secretary, told the RoundTable that teachers have been paid under the salary schedule provided in the old contract.

Background on Negotiations

On June 17, negotiators for DEC and the School Board reached their first tentative agreement, but it was not put to a vote until teachers returned from summer vacation.

When the vote was taken on Sept. 3, 85 percent of the teachers voted to reject the proposal, sources told the RoundTable.

After DEC had an opportunity to survey its members, negotiations resumed in October.

After three meetings no deal was reached, and both sides agreed to bring in a federal mediator. Sources told the RoundTable that many teachers were hoping that the mediator could help the parties work out an agreement, but added that a strike vote had been taken in the days before Nov. 6 and the “overwhelming” majority of teachers voted to strike if no deal was reached.

The strike vote will be moot if teachers vote to approve the tentative agreement reached on Nov. 6.

While the terms of the tentative agreement have not been disclosed, in early June the School Board offered to increase the teacher salary schedule by 5.7 percent each year, but requested that 20 minutes be added to the school day.

Board president Mary Erickson said the extended school day was something parents and administrators requested.

At that time DEC’s negotiating team maintained that the effective pay increase would be less than 1 percent per year, because the 20-minute increase was about a 5 percent addition to the school day. They also said the proposal asked teachers to pay a greater portion of medical insurance costs.

On Oct. 20, Ms. Erickson said the 5.7 percent increase was the “richest” offer since the inception of tax caps.”

She added, “The Board believes that it has stretched as far as it should, particularly when our nation and our taxpayers are confronted with a severe economic crisis with rising mortgage foreclosures, plummeting housing values and rising unemployment.”

For an update on the expected teacher vote, visit evanstonroundtable.com.