(Update at 10:10 a.m.) Students, particularly those with special needs, are beneficiaries of the tentative agreement reached earlier today between the Deerfield Education Association (DEA) teachers’ union Deerfield Public Schools District 109, according to union President Dennis Jensen.
“This is good for the schools, the community and the students,” Jensen said. “This deal is the best we could do under the circumstances.”
Along with compensation and teacher evaluation, issues surrounding special education were one of the integral topics needing agreement between the parties. Though not normally part of a union contract, the DEA decided to make it one this time.
“The special education provisions we got will benefit the special education population in the schools,” Jensen said. “Is it everything we wanted, no? Is it more than the Board wanted to give in the beginning, sure?”
Jensen agrees with District 109 School Board member and District negotiating team representative Steve Schwartz the few remaining details to be worked out will not get in the way of a the deal.
According to Jensen, once the agreement is put in final form, a meeting will be held with the entire union membership to explain it and answer any questions. After the meeting, a vote will be taken at each school to ratify the contract. Sixty percent of the teachers must approve the deal for ratification. The Board must pass it as well.
“Once that’s done, I’ll sign it and (School Board President) Ellen London will sign it,” Jensen said.
(Earlier at 8:22 a.m.) A tentative contract agreement was reached just before 1 a.m. today averting a strike by the against , according to District 109 School Board member Steve Schwartz.
Representatives of the District and the union began talking Thursday afternoon and negotiated into today’s early hours in their third session in less than two weeks with a federal mediator aimed at resolving the nine-month old dispute.
“We reached a tentative agreement subject to approval by the Board and ratification by the union,” Schwartz, one of the District negotiators, said. “There are a few minor details to be worked out. It was a good session.”
Word came from Schwartz in a phone call just before 1 a.m. Patch received a text message from union President Dennis Jensen indicating the two sides were still talking at 11:30 p.m. Thursday.
With major issues like compensation and teacher evaluations remaining unresolved at the beginning of the session, Schwartz felt everyone in the mediation made a strong effort to bring the ongoing contract discussions to an end.
“We rolled up our sleeves and got a lot done,” Schwartz told Patch this morning. “We still had a lot of open issues. It was a very collaborative evening.”
Schwartz does not see any of the remaining details barring final approval of the deal. He declined to give any details until the contract was put in writing.
Attorneys for the District are preparing final language which will then need approval by lawyers for the union. After that, union members must vote approval as well as the Board.
Patch will update this story through the day as it learns more from both groups. There will be a report at Monday’s Board meeting.