Members of DEC hold a rally before the Sept. 12 District 65 Board meeting. Photo from DEC

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District 65 teachers and administrators will continue their negotiations, soon with a federal mediator. On Sept. 8 the District notified the District Educators Council (DEC, the teachers’ union) that it agreed with DEC’s request for a federal mediator.

The teachers’ contract expired on Aug. 27, but schools opened on time and teachers continue their work. The DEC membership has authorized a strike, but no further public action in that direction has been taken.

About 200 members of DEC, parents, and community members attended a rally held before the Sept. 12 School Board meeting with members of DEC saying they wanted a contract.

At that Board meeting, District 65 Superintendent Paul Goren acknowledged the rally and said he felt it important that both parties work “continue to work together to find the appropriate model where we can get to a contract.” He said teachers are being compensated according to a provision in the recently expired contract.

“We appreciate the teachers’ efforts. We are also committed to continuing negotiations. By nature, negotiations are a give-and-take process,” Dr. Goren said.

“Our Board’s team has made very clear the District’s financial outlook and the significant deficits on the horizon, starting with a $4.5 million deficit for the next school year. The financial challenges we face are real. While we want to honor the hard work of our teachers and the work of the other bargaining units represented, we want to take this challenge into consideration, and we have a responsibility to the community to do so,” Dr. Goren said.

He added, “Like our families and community, we have tremendous support for our teachers and are grateful for the work they do for our families day in and day out. We have a shared goal in reaching a fair and equitable contract in an expeditious manner.”

DEC President Paula Zelinski told the RoundTable, “We continue to advocate for adequate planning time for our teachers so that the needs of all students can be met. We want a school day that impacts families in a positive way. We believe that respectful working conditions and professional compensation will keep District 65 competitive and help to attract and retain the best teachers for our children.”