Agreement Reached in State’s Longest Teacher Strike
HOMER, Ill. (AP) _ The school board Tuesday unanimously approved a new contract, joining teachers in accepting a pact to end a bitter 8-month-old strike that was the longest in state history.
The board voted 6-0 on the two-year accord, guaranteeing jobs for the 25 remaining strikers who walked off their jobs at the elementary school and high school Oct. 17. About 100 residents at the meeting applauded the board’s action.
″We’re very pleased and very relieved that the strike is finally over,″ said Colleen Brodie, president of the teachers union. ″Now we can get back to what we do best - educating the students of Homer.″
The contract does not specify pay raises, but calls for a formula setting salaries at about the median for small districts around the area.
The strike originally involved 27 teachers, but two left for work in other districts during the walkout. Ms. Brodie said she was not certain how many of the striking teachers would return in the fall.
The teachers gave the contract unanimous approval Monday, said union spokeswoman Charlene Edmiston.
″It was a board proposal and it was meant to be something that they would have a good chance of going for,″ said school board member Steve Craddock. ″It was now or never - or at least not for a long time.″
This east-central Illinois community of 1,300 people was sharply divided by the strike.
″Homer will never be the same. There are a lot of scars that are going to be left by this one,″ said resident Terry Wolf.
When school closed June 10, a union spokeswoman said the 25 striking teachers were concerned the school board would replace them by next fall.
Six tenured teachers were dismissed earlier when they refused to return to work, and 10 others were asked whether they would be in the classroom in the fall.
Shortly after the Oct. 17 walkout, the school board reopened schools using substitutes, and most of the 360 students came back to class. Most of the substitutes later received contracts for jobs through the spring semester.