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Unit 4 teachers and district reach a tentative contract agreement

Unit 4's Garden Hills Elementary School in Champaign.
Champaign Unit 4 Schools statement

CHAMPAIGN — Champaign Unit 4 teachers have a tentative contract agreement with the district.

In an email to union members early Wednesday morning, Champaign Federation of Teachers leadership says there will be a vote for teachers to ratify the contract on Tuesday April 5th, the day teachers had planned to go on strike.

Speaking at a listening session with parents Tuesday night just before a bargaining session with the district, CFT co-president Mike Sitch said Unit 4 did not budge on its contract offer until teachers voted last month to allow a strike.

“And it reinforces the behavior we’ve learned over the last 15 years … to get to a spot and then threaten each other with stuff,” Sitch said.

Contract negotiations broke down last fall between the union and the Unit 4 Board of Education over the board’s plan to extend the elementary school day. The board says this is necessary to provide deeper instructional time to close achievement gaps.

Unit 4 and the union have worked out usual contract details like pay. The sticking point had been whether to extend the elementary school day.

Details of the tentative agreement were not immediately available.

The Unit 4 school board had proposed to lengthen the day by 45 minutes in the 2023-2024 school year in its previous contract offer. Teachers had offered to lengthen it by 15 minutes, with the possibility of further extensions in future years.

Champaign Federation of Teachers Co-President Mike Sitch answers parent questions during a parent listening session Tuesday night. Emily Hays/Illinois Public Media

Out of the dozen in-person attendees at the Tuesday evening listening session, only one raised her hand to say she opposed the strike. She said students should be able to finish spring tests and sports seasons without interruption. Now it appears they will be able to do so, if teachers ratify the contract agreement next week.

A dozen parents and grandparents attended the union listening session in person. Emily Hays/Illinois Public Media

Emily Hays is a reporter for Illinois Public Media. Follow her on Twitter @amihatt.

Picture of Emily Hays

Emily Hays

Emily Hays started at WILL in October 2021 after three-plus years in local newsrooms in Virginia and Connecticut. She has won state awards for her housing coverage at Charlottesville Tomorrow and her education reporting at the New Haven Independent. Emily graduated from Yale University where she majored in History and South Asian Studies.

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From the National Weather Service in Central Illinois: A line of t’storms will affect the area late Thursday afternoon into the overnight hours. Some severe storms are in the forecast, with damaging wind gusts and large hail. Stay weather aware and be ready to take shelter when storms approach.