Harlem Back to School

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

School is back on for grades one through 12 in the Harlem district Tuesday and the teachers' strike is over.
With Monday's announcement teachers and the school board have reached a tentative three-year contract agreement, jubilation has replaced frustration in the Harlem school district.
"I have three children in all grade levels and I'm just ecstatically happy they're going back," says Harlem parent Terie Schunck.
After a four day break, Superintendent Pat Deluca called the teachers' union and a federal mediator Monday morning to restart negotiations that afternoon.
"Generally in this process, if one side contacts the mediator, it means they have a significant change in their proposal to make," explains Dave Comerford, a teachers' union spokesman.
Comerford would not specify yet what changes the school board may have made. Dr. Deluca says the district's controversial dual salary schedules, that gave newer teachers lower yearly raises, have been "melded."
"The teachers have received a substantial raise in relation to cost of living," says Deluca.
Neither side released any more information about the deal, because it's not final yet. The district's 540 teachers still have to vote on it Tuesday night. If they vote it down, the strike is back on.
"I am optimistic because I know how fabulous our negotiation team has been they have worked tirelessly not only for the union but for the students. The students have always been paramount," says Harlem teacher Ruth Meissen.
As for those students, most are looking forward to walking back in the classroom and out on the playing field. Though some worry school could be a little strained at first.
Harlem High student Josh Lundstrom says, "There will be people that are mad at the teachers and are gonna get an attitude with them and make class hard. But hopefully people can see past that and be happy to be back." ...and hope it stays that way.
School leaders plan to release more information about the agreement over the next few days. The school board still has to approve the contract after teachers ratify it.
School leaders plan to release more information about the agreement over the next few days. The school board still has to approve the contract after teachers ratify it.
School is back on a normal full-day schedule Tuesday for grades one through 12, with buses as usual. But kindergarteners and pre-schoolers at the Parker Center do not have school Tuesday. Instead there's a parent orientation. For parents of A.M. students, orientation is from 5:30 P.M. to 6:15 P.M. For P.M. students, it's 7:00 P.M. to 7:45 P.M.
Wednesday there will be student orientation with a partial day schedule at Parker. A.M. students should be there from 9:05 A.M. to 10:05 A.M. P.M. students from 12:45 P.M. to 1:45 P.M. No transportation will be provided on Wednesday.
Parker kids' first full day, with transportation provided, is Thursday.


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