Teachers in Cairo reach tentative deal

Sunday, July 28, 2002

CAIRO, Ill. -- After months of negotiations, Cairo teachers say they have reached a tentative four-year agreement with Unit District 1 School Board.

"We are happy this is over and do not anticipate any problems getting it ratified," said Ron Newell, president of the Cairo Association of Teachers. "This deal is a compromise that involves the board's giving more than it wanted and the teachers not getting everything we asked for."

Details of the deal were not released.

If approved by the board and union, the deal will keep teachers on the job until at least August 2005.

The two sides reached agreement after nearly 11 hours of negotiations Friday. Teachers will vote on the contract when school reopens next month.

The board had proposed giving teachers nearly $260,000 over three years, or an average salary increase of nearly $4,000 per teacher. The board also had agreed to pay full health insurance premiums of $443 per month per teacher, with an agreement to pay each teacher a rebate if premiums fall below that amount.

Teachers initially demanded a three-year deal with pay and benefits increases totaling $315,658, or a raise of $4,446 for each teacher during the period.

"We can say the agreement is patterned after the proposal presented by both sides during the meetings between us," Newell said. "We believe we have a contract that will allow Cairo to slide quietly out of the spotlight."

Superintendent Robert Isom said he was pleased with the results.

Last April, the 17-day walkout cost the district thousands of state and federal dollars, cost teachers pay and benefits and cost students time in the classroom.

The school board balked at meeting teachers' demands, contending that financial constraints and state budget problems restricted it from offering teachers more pay and benefits.

Newell said the cooling-off period during the summer was a key reason for the settlement.

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