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Crest Hill

Richland school board ratifies teachers contract; board member resigns

CREST HILL – The lengthy contract negotiations between the Richland School District 88a School Board and teachers is over after the school board approved Wednesday night a bargained agreement before its reorganizational meeting.

The approval came after teachers ratified the contract April 16.

“It was a long process,” board member Nate Albert said. “I’m glad it’s completed and both sides are satisfied.”

Following the vote, board member Sylvia Zielke tendered her resignation effective immediately. She said she wouldn’t have enough time to commit to board duties because of several issues, including starting a new business and getting married.

Contract

Superintendent Michael Early declined to comment before Wednesday night’s meeting on the particulars of the contract, noting the district will work with the union on a joint news release within the next several days that would explain details of the contract.

Teachers union officials previously told The Herald-News that the agreement is a tentative three-year deal that would be retroactive to Sept. 1, 2014. Teachers would receive 3 percent raises each year, teachers union Vice President Steve Camp said.

Added to the contract was language protecting teachers from being disciplined arbitrarily, Camp said last week. Teachers voted no confidence in Early and Principal Kelly Whyte last June in part because of what teachers allege was a hostile work environment, Camp has said. In response, the school board issued a vote of full confidence in the administration.

Five-member board

Zielke resigned from the board Wednesday to focus on her new business, Sunny Lane Acres, which sells natural, non-genetically modified food, including eggs, chickens and honey.

Zielke was first elected in April 2005.

“I’m glad I could be a part of this growth,” she said.

Zielke wasn’t the only one who left the board Wednesday. Albert didn’t run for re-election to the school board in April because of his campaign to be a Crest Hill alderman. But he lost in the election to incumbent Tom Inman.

Zielke and Albert were both given plaques by board President Julie Starasinich, honoring their service on the board.

Early said he planned to notify Thursday morning the Regional Office of Education of the two vacancies, as required by state statute. The district will accept applications beginning Thursday through May 15 from district residents interested in serving on the board.

Interested applicants can pick up candidate packets at the district office. Applicants are scheduled to be interviewed by the board in closed session during the May 20 board meeting. The appointments are expected to be made following the executive session.

The board also reorganized, with Starasinich remaining as president, board member Michelle Cipiti becoming vice president and Sam Chellino continuing as secretary.

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