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Champaign Teachers Vote to Ratify Contract

by Maddy Chemers

On Tuesday, the Unit 4 Champaign Federation of Teachers (CFT) voted to ratify a new contract. The latest contract for Champaign teachers expired at the end of last year, and since then, the teachers have been working without one. Early last week the School Board and CFT came to a tentative agreement in order to prevent a teacher strike. The teachers voted 76% yes and 24% no to this proposed agreement.

Mike Carpenter is a sixth-grade teacher at Jefferson Middle School who voted yes to the contract.

“It is by no means a perfect contract, but I trusted our bargaining team that they were going to get the best that they could. And most importantly, something that we as teachers can implement and actually do a service for our students and there are ways in this contract that we can,” Carpenter said.

In a recent press release, Mike Sitch, co-president of the Champaign Federation of Teachers said, “It was a long road to get here, but I’m glad to see that a majority of our members voted in favor of this agreement. We look forward to working with the Unit 4 Board and administration further to best meet the needs of our students.”

One aspect of the new contract that the elementary school teachers were especially concerned about is the plan to extend the school day. When this agreement takes effect, students will remain at school for an extra 35 minutes to make up for learning lost during the pandemic.

Carpenter said, “How do we make those 35 minutes fruitful for them? There will, like with anything in teaching, probably be some trial and error and figuring those things out but knowing many elementary school teachers and the compassion that they have for what they do, I foresee them doing the absolute best with what they can.”

The School Board votes on this decision Monday, April 11.

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