Updated: D65, teachers’ union reach tentative agreement

Manuel Rapada, Reporter

UPDATE, 7 p.m. Thursday:

Teachers will learn more about the agreement Thursday, according to a news release Tuesday. Members of the teachers’ union will vote next week on the agreement. If ratified by the DEC membership, the agreement will be sent to the school board for approval.

Original story:

Evanston-Skokie District 65 and its teachers’ union reached a temporary agreement in contract negotiations early Monday morning, easing fears of a possible strike a week before the school year starts.

“I believe we have negotiated a tentative agreement with the District Educators’ Council that is fair to our teachers, fair to our community and fair to our students,” D65 Superintendent Hardy Murphy said in a news release Monday.

Although details of the agreement were not disclosed, DEC president Jean Luft said in an email to The Daily that both parties reached the agreement 4 a.m. Monday.

During contract negotiations, the district and the teachers’ union disagreed over changes to the fine arts program and teachers’ class-planning time, among other issues.

Proposed changes included cutting 40 minutes a week of “fine arts/special” curriculum for most fourth and fifth grade students, as well as reducing planning time for fourth and fifth grade teachers, according to the DEC website.

However, in a written statement from last week’s D65 board meeting, school board president Katie Bailey said that teachers’ planning time offered in D65 was “more than competitive” with that of nearby districts.

Bailey added that the district has not made a single bargaining proposal that would reduce planning time required under the current contract, which will expire on the first day of school, Sept. 4.

Teachers “can confidently start school this week” and students can begin school as planned, Bailey said in the news release.

Although a tentative budget presented at last week’s D65 board meeting anticipates a less than 1 percent overall decrease in salaries, the budget does factor in potential salary increases of 3.8 percent, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday.

Teachers will learn more about the agreement on Sept. 5, Luft said. The agreement is subject to both teacher ratification and board approval, according to the news release.