Teachers in East St Louis Ill walked a picket line for a month before the union and school district reached a contract agreement East St. Louis Federation of Teachers

Teachers in East St. Louis, Ill., walked a picket line for a month before the union and school district reached a contract agreement.

Classes resume in East St. Louis, Ill., after monthlong teachers strike

Teachers in the financially struggling district had been without a contract since August 2014

Students returned to classes Monday morning in the East St. Louis (Ill.) school district after the board and teachers union agreed on a four-year contract that ended a monthlong strike by teachers.

The district said in a news release that the new contract calls for an average salary increase of $12,834 over the four-year span of the contract; increased longevity payments; improved insurance benefits (no deductible; fully paid employee medical, dental, vision, and life insurance); and a 19-step salary schedule for teachers.

The agreement "marks an important milestone for the financial stability of our district," Superintendent Arthur R. Culver says. "Everyone is eager to return so that we can continue our journey toward academic excellence."

Sharon Crockett, president of the East St. Louis Federation of Teachers, said, "We are glad to finally be returning to our classrooms and the kids we love teaching."

About 400 teachers and staff members had been working without a contract since August 2014 and had accepted three consecutive years of pay freezes to help the district improve its finances, the union said, before deciding to begin a strike on Oct. 1.

Administrators say they intend to adjust the school calendar to make up the 21 days of instruction that the district's 6,000 students have missed because of the job action.

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