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Decatur Teaching Assistants Ratify New Agreement with DPS61

Decatur, IL – After a long first mediation session Monday night, the Decatur Federation of Teaching Assistants (DFTA, IFT Local 4324) and the Decatur Public Schools District #61 Board of Education have reached a tentative agreement in their contract negotiations. Details were finalized earlier this week, and DFTA members voted on Thursday and Friday to ratify the agreement.

DFTA President Michelle Mitchell released the following statement upon DFTA members voting to accept a new two-year contract:

“I am so glad – surprised and glad – that we were able to come to an agreement with the district. DFTA members came together to fight for our students and the education they deserve, and I’m proud that we stood up to demand better.

“Our kids need fully staffed school buildings and the right supports in place to succeed. Our work assisting students is essential to that success, but the staffing shortages across our district cannot be ignored. To fill those positions, and to retain the wonderful veteran staff who have stayed in DPS, it is critical to pay people a fair, living wage. This new contract is a good step in that direction.

“Our membership is grateful to our community and allies for standing with us, including State Senator Doris Turner who rallied our members last week, and Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski and State Rep. Sue Scherer who showed their support. Combining that with the solidarity from our extended union family from SEIU Local 73, the Decatur Trades and Labor Assembly and the IFT, we’ve shown that when we fight together for what’s fair, we win for our students, our public schools, and communities.”

The board will have a chance to ratify the agreement as well. The contract is retroactive to July 1, 2023, as DFTA's previous contract expired June 30.

The Decatur Federation of Teaching Assistants (DFTA), IFT Local 4324, represents more than 300 teaching assistants, LPNs, hearing interpreters, and hearing/vision technicians. They also work one-on-one with the students in the Macon-Piatt Special Education District. DFTA is affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) represents 103,000 teachers and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at Illinois’ community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees.


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