Galesburg Strike Over; Reaction Mixed - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Galesburg Strike Over; Reaction Mixed

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School starts Friday for Galesburg students.

The teachers narrowly approved a new four year contract with the school district.

Then the school board approved the contract quickly.

All of this took place in the last day.

Students at both last night's announcement that a deal had been reached, and others Thursday are excited.

They're ready to come back to class and participate in all the activities they've missed.

There are clearly different feelings for the groups that have gone through the bargaining process.

The district is happy with the result, but the teachers union is upset.

There are hurt feelings with this contract and it will take some time for things to get back to normal.

A volleyball game against Canton became one of the first official school functions of the 2014 Galesburg school year. A year that will be marked by this strike.

"It's nice, it's my first year, so I'm glad the teachers can come up with something, I want to learn just like anybody else," says freshman Dmaurien Collins.

He's glad the strike is over. He's ready to start his freshman year. The school superintendent is ready to come back too.

"I feels terrible for kids, because both sides feel passionately for what they believe in, their emotions come into play, it'll take some time to heal it," says Superintendent Bart Arthur.

He says neither side got everything it wanted, but he's happy with the four year contract in place.

"The board gave and union has given up things, that's what collective bargaining is all about," says Arthur.

The union is less happy though. Its membership approved the contract by 52.3 percent of the vote. The teachers are upset with the agreement that brought them back into work.

"The highly punitive language and from our standpoint it feels like we're being punished for doing what we felt was right all along," says GEA Spokesperson Brad Bennewitz.

He says teachers will be docked up to six days of pay from their salaries. He says the district is also going to shorten the school year by eight days.

"There's no reason for that, those days could easily be made up in a number of ways and the school board and administration rejected our attempts to do that," says Bennewitz.

Disagreement and hurt feelings aside, the union narrowly accepted the contract. Meaning students like Dmaurien Collins can come back to school.

"I'm ready to meet my teachers, see new classmates, ready to be in a school where I can be welcomed," says Collins.

School will be back in session for everyone but pre-kindergarten students.

The day will have a 55 minute early out.

Pre-k students will start their school year on Tuesday.

The teachers will be receiving a half percent pay raise.

Both sides also compromised on how teachers will be rated during the contract.

Teachers will maintain their current ratings over the first two years of the contract.

Over the final two, their ratings will be up for a full review.

 

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