The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

June 29, 2013

Legislature could help local schools


DANVILLE — Members of the District 118 school board and the Danville Education Association must be relieved to be able to put aside concerns about a contract for the next three years.

DEA members voted to accept the contract’s provisions Thursday by a wide margin. Robin Twidwell, DEA president, said 94 percent of those voting approved the offer.

School board members are expected to do the same when they meet next week.

The deal brings to a close a couple of long and contentious years for the school district. Teachers staged a strike in 2010. That ended in a one-year deal, which then was extended through the school year just completed.

The three-year contract soon to be in place will give both sides a chance to evaluate their positions and — most important — the Illinois General Assembly an opportunity to step up and do its job of funding the state’s schools properly. While the new state budget did not cut education funding, money to districts was reduced in recent years. The cuts put district, which count on the state for much of their funds, in difficult positions.

Those ramifications still haven’t finished rippling through local school districts, with some of the smaller ones considering alternatives such as cooperative schools and even mergers.

Both sides involved in the District 118 negotiations deserve credit for conducting themselves well in public. No one wants to see talks as important as these were digress into petty disputes among members of the negotiating teams.

Now that the deal is almost done, DEA members and school board members both can renew their focus on the most important aspect of their work — helping Danville students succeed academically.