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updated: 8/2/2011 4:28 PM

Cary District 26 union wants final arbitration

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The Cary Education Association has invited the Cary Elementary District 26 school board to enter into interest arbitration to settle the ongoing teacher contract dispute.

In a news release, a teachers union representative said the resolution method would "allow an outside professional to take the reins of these stalled negotiations."

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District 26 Superintendent Brian Coleman said the board would meet Thursday to discuss the union's request. Coleman said the board most likely would provide a response at the end of the week.

The two sides have been working for the past eight months to hammer out a deal, but an impasse was declared in early July. Sticking points include length of school day, start times, and salary and insurance concessions.

Under interest arbitration, a third party would be responsible for making final and binding decisions based on the final offers both parties submitted to the Illinois Educational Labor Review Board last month.

Union representatives said they seek a resolution before school starts at the end of the month.

"The families of Cary deserve to have a clear picture of the district's financial and educational future," said the release signed by Dana Cook, a member of the union negotiating team. "There are many key issues still outstanding that will affect the beginning of the school year."

The teachers' most recent offer, a proposed 3-year contract, includes a salary freeze, increased health insurance contributions from teachers and an additional 15 minutes per school day.

In its final offer, the district proposed a 2-year contract that includes salary rollbacks to 2008-2009 levels, eliminating post-retirement payouts, as well as reduced insurance contributions. The board also proposed adding 30 minutes to each school day.

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