More than 400 Highland Park and Highwood teachers walked off the job just after midnight, and teachers say the two sides are far from an agreement; perhaps even farther apart now than when negotiations began. Christian Farr reports.
More than 400 Highland Park and Highwood teachers walked off the job just after midnight, leaving hundreds of North Shore students out of class.
Elementary and middle schools in District 112 are closed Tuesday for the latest teacher strike in Illinois. Three schools will remain open for supervised activities, but parents had to pre-register their children last week.
Teachers rallied ahead of negotiations on Monday. They said they want at least a 3 percent raise, noting the 1.3 percent raise being offered by the board puts them behind 18 other Lake County school districts.
"The board still is refusing to understand that we have some sticking points, which include giving teachers incentives for courses they've paid tens of thousands of dollars for," said North Shore Education Association President Pamela Kramer. "Also we believe in getting a fair salary package and fair retirement benefits."
The school board's members said they hope to come to a fast, fair resolution.
"Board members still believe that it is possible to arrive at a fair settlement that will allow the district to live within its means, while at the same time providing its employees with ... excellent teacher and learning environment," school board president Bruce Hyman said in a statement.
Both sides returned to the negotiating table after noon Tuesday.
"I think the message is we want to keep the high quality of teachers that have been in the North Shore school district for many, many years," Kramer said. "If we accepted the current offer, it would make the contract in our district one of the worst in the county."
Meanwhile teachers in two other school districts could go on strike. The teachers union in Carpentersville will resume negotiations Tuesday night after approving a resolution authorizing a strike, and about 300 teachers in Grayslake also are reviewing their latest contract.