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Strike Officially Settled — Superintendent Reacts

WGIL Newsroom . Local News 693

205logobwIt probably wasn’t as close a vote as the leaders of the Galesburg Education Association wanted, but it still officially gets students in District-205 to classes for the first time starting tomorrow.

The GEA rank-and-file voted by about a 52-percent to 48-percent margin according to sources in favor of the collective bargaining agreement announced early this morning, and ending a 15 day strike.

District-205 Superintendent Bart Arthur says he hopes the community heals from what was a deeply-dividing strike.

“Because both sides are very passionate about what they believe in, there are emotions that come into play,” Arthur said.  “Our goal is to get everybody back together, and work toward educating the kids as best as we can.  I feel our teachers do a great job of that.”

Arthur says what was described as the one main sticking point which was left — recall rights for laid-off teachers based on evaluations — ended up being worked out, while still following state law.

“They just requested, ‘could we have this contract say that we’re all going to be all 4’s continued?'” Arthur said.  “We didn’t agree with that, but we settled on two years.  We’re going to go with that.  They will keep the same rating for ’14-’15 and ’15-’16 school…then, in ’16-’17, we’re going to use the ratings system and seniority, which is a really good compromise.”

“Four” is the highest rating in the four-tiered system for teachers, and all tenured teachers are starting out with a “four”rating. Recall rights and evaluations were a point where — just earlier this week — the school board refused to budge on their stance.

Four of the 12 days worth of class will be made up, Arthur says, extending the fall semester for Galesburg High School students into January, instead of ending before Christmas. Teachers will receive a half-percent raise for each of the four years.

Teachers refused to comment when leaving today’s vote.

To hear Arthur’s full press conference, CLICK HERE.