Teachers Seek Tentative Agreement

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Some teachers are breathing a small sigh of relief Sunday night after seeing the details of the Lansing schools' tentative agreement.

"I'm feeling better than I was at the end of our last and final offer," says Gardner teacher Gloria Cannon.

"I feel a little more informed, a little more hopeful," echoes Pattengill teacher Sonya Lewis.

More than 400 Lansing teachers showed up Sunday to learn about their potential new contract. In the closed-door session, union leaders explained the tentative agreement in an attempt to quell teachers' fears and answer questions.

"It went well, they asked lots of questions," says LSEA president Jerry Swartz. "[The teachers] are wanting to understand where are the wins and where are the losses."

The losses are what teachers are most concerned with, specifically in areas like health care and wage increases.

"There's a bad taste in a lot of teachers' mouths right now, still regarding the stipend that was taken from us, and the bad blood between the board and the teachers," says Melissa Waligorski, teacher at Wainwright Elementary.

"Bad blood" or not, teachers must head to the polls this week. They'll have two days to either ratify or reject the contract. And even after the meeting Sunday-- and more than a year of negotiating-- not every teacher has his or her mind made up.

"Right now I need to digest it all. I'm going to go through the agreement and just really take a look at it," Cannon says.

"I haven't made my final decision, but I'm taking it all under advisement, and of course, like all teachers will do, I can do my homework," says Lewis.

And with some teachers worried their contract actions will affect future contract terms, their voting hands are heavy as they head into the school week.

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