The Waukegan teachers' strike is set to come to an end after the Waukegan Teachers' Council and school board reached an agreement in the early morning hours of Thursday.
The three-year deal is being reviewed by both parties and should be ratfied later today. If the deal is approved, teachers would be back in schools on Friday to prepare for students' arrival on Monday.
"This tentative agreement represents not only a compromise between the Union and the Board, but an end to what was a long, trying process for all parties involved," said Waukegan Teachers' Council President Kathy Schwarz. "We are grateful to the entire Waukegan community that struggled with us through these difficult times. We would also like to thank Governor Pat Quinn and Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gery Chico for their assistance during the conclusion of contract talks. After years of instability, we are hopeful that this agreement will be the first step in giving our students the schools they deserve."
IFT President Dan Montgomery released the following statement in response to the impending deal:
I am so inspired by our Waukegan teachers and the community united behind them.
Going on strike is never a decision made lightly. But for teachers in Waukegan, their fight for fairness, respect, and a quality education for the students they serve was a sacrifice worth making.
Congratulations to Waukegan Teachers' Council President and IFT Vice President Kathy Schwarz, Lake County Federation of Teachers President Mike McGue, our hard-working staff, and all the members who stood together through twenty days of this difficult struggle.
We must also recognize the assistance of Governor Pat Quinn and state board of education Chairman Gery Chico, who got personally involved to help achieve a fair settlement. They believed in us, and the importance of a resolution for this community.
I don't believe we would have been able to reach an agreement last night without the leadership of Chairman Chico.
Teachers and students will be going back to school soon in a new Waukegan that they are building together. This is the heart of our work as a union, and IFT members across our state stand proudly in solidarity as we fight for what is right in all of our communities.
UPDATE 1 (7:08 p.m.): The 20-day Waukegan teachers strike is officially over after 86 percent of the educators voted to ratify a three-year contract with the district.