After failing to get a teacher’s contract signed before Thanksgiving, the bargaining parties at Oak Park elementary school District 97 are hoping to have a deal approved early 2015.

The goal had been to ratify the tentative agreement reached last month by the Thanksgiving holiday. But that fell through after the Oak Park Teachers’ Association voted down the contract on Nov. 14.

In a joint statement released Tuesday afternoon, the bargaining parties said they hope to reach an agreement early next year.

“We will resume our dialogue in the days ahead, and remain optimistic that a deal can be reached following the first of the year,” according to the statement from the OPTA, district administration and D97 school board. “In the meantime, we want to thank the entire community for its patience and understanding while we complete this important process, as well as for its continued support of our schools and the children we serve.”

On Monday, D97 spokesperson Chris Jasculca, via email, confirmed the no vote last Friday but did not go into further details. Jasculca said school board President Bob Spatz and D97 Supt. Al Roberts planned to meet with OPTA leadership later that evening to discuss next steps.

The OPTA, board and administration announced in October that a tentative agreement had been reached and that ratification was expected by Thanksgiving. According to a statement from the three parties at the time, a new contract seemed likely. The three sides had reached “mutual material agreement” on nearly all aspects of the new contract, according to the bargaining parties.

Wednesday Journal called and emailed OPTA co-presidents Jennifer Nelson and Sue Tresselt Monday morning for comment. Tresselt, who teaches at Irving, was unreachable by phone and did not respond to an email. Nelson, who’s a teacher-librarian in the district, responded via email and said the OPTA will have a statement in the coming days.

In Tuesday’s joint statement, the board, administration and OPTA discussed where the parties will go from here.

“The recent vote on the tentative agreement by the membership of the OPTA underscored the need for further discussion about critical issues such as the short- and long-term impact of the proposed shift in compensation practices.

“During the past 10 months, the Board of Education, district administration and Oak Park Teachers’ Association (OPTA) have collaborated on the creation of a contract that would recognize and reward the hard work and tireless dedication of our teachers, while also helping to ensure the future success and financial sustainability of our district.”

Negotiations are in its 11th month after starting in January. The district’s roughly 480 teachers have been working under the terms of the old contract, which was approved in 2008 and extended for an additional year 2011 before expiring in June of this year. 

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

Related article:

D97 board, administration, teacher’s union reach tentative faculty contract

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