District 97 teacher contract talks likely to extend into the summer

Compensation, Common Core have changed profession since 2008

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Teacher contract negotiations currently underway at District 97 might extend into the summer as the board, administration and faculty union continue to address a broad range of issues, the elementary school district has announced.

A statement released from the district late Tuesday said that contract talks, which will include the drafting and approving a final agreement, might likely extend into the summer.

D97 spokesperson Chris Jasculca said Wednesday that it wasn't definite that talks would extend into June but that it could head that way given the "robust" discussion happening at the table.

This latest announcement, he added, is also meant to keep the public and district staff up-to-date about how the negotiations are going thus far.

D97 administration, the Board of Education, and Oak Park Teachers' Association began negotiations in January. The last contract was signed in 2008. Negotiations this time around are addressing the changes in education that's occurred in the last six years, Jasculca said.

"A lot of the discussion is dealing with a broad range of issues and topics. There have been a lot of changes in the industry and I think they want to spend as much time as necessary on those issues. So it's really been a robust discussion covering a lot of topics," Jasculca said.

Those topics include changes in teacher compensation models, as well as the implementation of Common Core across the nation that's impacting the teaching profession, Jasculca noted.

D97's compensation study conducted during spring 2013 is also among those topics, he said.

A D97 study group featuring board members, OPTA reps and the superintendent investigated how some other Illinois school districts pay faculty. The results of that study were slated to be part of D97's current contract talks. 

Statement from D97

During the last three months, the Board of Education, district administration and Oak Park Teachers' Association have been working closely and collaboratively with each other on the creation of a new teacher contract. We have engaged in a productive dialogue about the complex and intricate issues that have shaped our profession in the six years since our last negotiations. We have also talked about how we can strengthen the relationships that are vital to the long-term success and sustainability of our district.

While these critical conversations will continue between now and the end of the school year, the process associated with this important endeavor, which includes drafting, editing, reviewing and approving the final contract, may extend into the summer. We will keep the community updated on our progress, and appreciate its support as we work toward the creation of a mutually beneficial agreement that will help build a better tomorrow for our schools and the children we serve.

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