Leslie Teachers, District Reach Agreement

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After nine months of teachers working without a contract, negotiators for the Leslie Education Association and the Leslie School District have reached a preliminary agreement. Both sides say they're glad the dispute is over.

Leslie High School teacher Bruce Barbour is usually teaching geometry or calculus. But for nine months, he's been crunching other numbers: An employment contract for himself and the 94 other teachers in the Leslie district.

"It's been a long, stressful year," Barbour said.

Part of the stress is over for now -- teachers have reached a tentative two-year contract with the district.

"This agreement reallly sets in place teacher compensation, and calendar issues, and other things," Leslie Board of Education President Larry Steckelberg said.

He says the contract doesn't just mean something for teachers.

"We'll have calendars in place for this year and next year ... so people will know ... when the district is operating," Steckelberg said, meaning parents will know when their kids have breaks and vacations sprinkled throughout the schoolyear.

Those things were up in the air as teachers worked without a contract -- not always happily.

They wore tee shirts noting their plight to school, and to the school board. Barbour says the months-long disagreement has left some lasting damage in its wake.

"The relationship between teachers and the superintendent has suffered. Even between the teachers and the school board. And now that we finally arrived at some agreement that we think is fair for everyone, it's time for the healing to start," he said.

Healing -- and renewed focus.

"We get to focus back on the kids, working with parents, students to further their education. That's what the community expects," Steckelberg said.

Expectations teachers and administrators say continue to be met.

"That's one thing that hasn't suffered. The education of the students -- both sides put that first," Barbour said.

The next step is for both sides to approve the contract.

The school board needs to ratify the agreement, followed by the Ingham-Clinton teachers union board needs to approve.

If approved, that board will pass the contract along to the Leslie teachers themselves for ratification.

-- in Leslie, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.