PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Months after negotiations began Peoria Public Schools and the Peoria Federation of Teachers Local 780 have agreed to a three year contract.
“We didn’t think we were going to have to go that far to get the contract. We had not just the federal mediator, but also the strike vote. We had a big time rally, and we had a rally at the Labor Day parade,” PFT President Jeff Adkins-Dutro said.
Adkins-Dutro said it was a lot of work to get the contract done but it made the union stronger. Peoria Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat is happy there is a board-approved contract.
“You know when you’re bargaining, it sometimes could be a grueling process. And there were ups and downs but it was a very good compromise. I think there were benefits for all sides,” said Desmoulin-Kherat.
One of the concerns of the teachers going into negotiations was the lack of discipline for problematic students.
“We did get some discipline language in our contract. So now the district has to work with us on improving discipline in the schools,” said Adkins-Dutro.
The district has 10 alternative sites to address student behavioral problems. Desmoulin-Kherat wants to implement a more empathetic approach for students to enhance disciplinary issues.
“It focuses on creating relationships with the children, understanding the children, understanding where they’re coming from, understanding what happened the night before. Actually, the training is called the night before,” Desmoulin-Kherat said.
Had their primary concerns not been met, the teachers were ready to go on strike come October.
“So we knew if we had to do it, we could do it and it would be strong. But thankfully we didn’t have to,” Adkins-Dutro said.
Desmoulin-Kherat said she was not worried about a strike.
“Honestly I was not too concerned because I knew we could pull it off in the end,” she said.
The contract goes into effect this school term. The other conditions of the contract include incremental pay raises, a retention bonus and other concerns.