Rockford Education Association and the Rockford Public Schools have reached tentative agreement on a two-year contract. If approved, the contract would begin with the start of the 2015-16 school year.
Two steps need to be taken now. The union’s approximately 2,000 members need to ratify the contract in a vote scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10. If that happens, the Rockford School Board also must approve the contract. That vote would occur during the board’s next meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11.
The agreement is the result of a first for RPS 205: a collaborative bargaining process. The process, called Interest-Based Bargaining, began with two days of training in December 2014. Since then, bargaining teams from the district and the union met 16 times and discussed issues including class size, technology, evaluation, insurance and compensation. These meetings alone represented more than 100 hours.
The IBB process is a series of phases. It begins with identifying issues and possible solutions before formal bargaining begins. Discussions and problem-solving continue even after a contract is approved.
The Interest-Based Bargaining model has been used successfully across the country, including in Indian Prairie School District 204 in Aurora. In Rockford, facilitators from the nonprofit Consortium for Educational Change and the Illinois Education Association assisted the bargaining team.
The contract, if approved, would extend through the end of the 2016-17 school year. Details will not be made available until both parties have ratified the agreement.
The union vote will take place at Jefferson High School, 4145 Samuelson Road, Rockford. The board meeting will be held in the third floor board room of the Administration Building, 501 7th St., Rockford.