Illini Bluffs Prepares for School, New Contract

By Anna Yee

August 30, 2011 Updated Aug 30, 2011 at 10:55 PM CDT

After eight days of striking, it's time to say goodbye to the Illini Bluffs teachers' strike and hello to the new school year.

The board of education and teachers' union are closing in on a three-year contract deal.

"I feel good," said Ray Roskos, IL. Fed. of Teachers field director. "I think both sides are happy that the kids are going to be back in school, and we're happy the teachers are going to get back to doing what they do, teach."

That's just what 3rd grade teacher Annette Williams says she's ready to do.

All teaching and support staff were back Monday to...

"Make sure everything's nice and neat, the desks are ready," said Williams. "Make sure the books are all ready for the students to put their names on. We've been working to get our rooms ready to start off the year really wonderful."

Parents and kids were relieved to get the news Sunday night, but many residents express concern about the future.

"I didn't feel like the whole board was communicating why they were taking the stance that they were taking," said Angela Williams, an Illini Bluffs parent, "and that was frustrating for the community and the parents."

Dr. Sam Light, the Dist. 327 Superintendent says the board only wanted one spokesperson.

"I've used this example many times," said Dr. Light. "If you ask 7 people in a room how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you're going to get 7 different answers. We didn't want that, because that creates miscommunication. So, we had our attorney answer all of those."

Still, Dr. Light says the negotiating parties need to communicate earlier with each other next time.

The teachers' union is likely to vote on the contract proposal Tuesday.

In the meantime, Illini Bluffs sports teams can now go back to their regularly scheduled practices and games.

Some teams had to forfeit games while holding practices on their own, but this week it's back to coaches-- and teachers-- ready to do their jobs.

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