The Kewanee Board of Education is expected to vote on a new teacher contract at its meeting tonight, Nov. 20, 2023, at 7:30 p.m., at Petersen Auditorium, 1101 E. 3rd St., Kewanee.

Kewanee Education Association president Ruth Kapacinskas said that members of the teachers’ union voted Sunday night to approve the new contract. According to a release from the Kewanee Education Association, here are details on the new contract: 

  • Creates a joint committee with members from the board of education and KEA: This committee was something KEA fought hard for, and we believe it is an opportunity for collaboration and growth. It provides a new avenue for KEA to advocate for our students.
  • Includes a teacher shortage fix: The new contract will provide funds for education support staff interested in earning their teacher certification, which will help Kewanee keep dedicated educators in our district. This will also improve our educators’ working conditions and our students’ learning conditions by bringing more teachers into the profession and addressing the teaching shortage.
  • Provides historic wage increases for Kewanee teachers and staff: In the first year of the contract, all licensed employees earned a raise of at least 5 percent and hourly staff earned an increase of $1.50 per hour. Some members whose salaries had been frozen (hired 2017-22) will earn 9 percent more than 2022-23 in order to address the wage compression.
  • Includes backpay: The new wages in this contract will be retroactive to the end of the last contract, which expired on Aug. 15.

“We believe this contract is a step in the right direction, but there is much more work to be done to make Kewanee a place that attracts talented education support staff and teachers and retains the experienced staff members we have,” she said in a Monday release from the Illinois Education Association.

“We are looking forward to continuing to work towards truly making Kewanee a destination district where educators can spend their careers. Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions and we won’t stop until we get that right,” Kapacinskas said.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Kewanee community who rallied around us. We are humbled by the tremendous outpouring of support,” she added. “Thank you for standing by us during this time. We look forward to continuing to work together to make sure all our students receive the high-quality public education they deserve.”

The teachers’ union and school board have been working with a federal mediator to iron out details of a new contract.

The two sides hadn’t been able to agree on a new contract since the last one expired Aug. 15. The school board presented what it calls “the district’s best and final offer” at the end of October.