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updated: 9/19/2012 4:31 PM

Lake Forest teachers strike ends with tentative contract agreement

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Some 150 Lake Forest High School teachers were back in class Wednesday following a tentative contract agreement that ended a seven-day strike.

The proposal must still be ratified by teachers and the school board. Specific terms were not released Wednesday, but school spokeswoman Anne Whipple called it a 4-year deal.

A date for a school board vote hasn't been set, Whipple said. The board is next scheduled to meet Oct. 9.

In a news release, school board President Sharon Golan said officials are pleased teachers and roughly 1,700 students were back in classrooms Wednesday.

Union spokesman Chuck Gress said he expects to learn the details of the proposal Thursday. He didn't comment further.

The walkout began Sept. 12 when contract negotiations stalled over pay raises and starting teacher compensation.

Before the strike, the school board had offered the teachers an average estimated total salary hike of 2.6 percent for the 2012-13 academic year, while the Lake Forest Education Association sought 5.6 percent.

Teachers wanted a total average raise of about 6.5 percent in 2013-14, while the school board was offering 3.4 percent.

For the 2014-15 academic year, the board was proposing a total average pay hike of 3.4 percent. The union wanted total raises of 5.6 percent.

The strike started two days after 25,000 teachers went on strike in Chicago. That strike also ended Wednesday morning.

The dual strikes could impact teacher-union negotiations in other communities, said Mike McGue, president of the Lake County Federation of Teachers.

"I would hope that school boards will see this is not a time to take advantage of teachers and make even more demands on their evaluation and transfer rights," he said.

Teacher evaluations based largely on standardized tests scores is not what's best for students, McGue said. He suggested alternative methods will come into play.

Teachers also are concerned about increased pressure from school districts to take advantage of the economic times during contract talks, McGue said.

Lake Forest students were ordered to school Monday and Tuesday despite the strike. Volunteers and nonunion workers offered movies and other activities.

State education officials on Tuesday ruled the programs won't count as legal attendance days.

Daily Herald staff writer Mick Zawislak and Daily Herald wire services contributed to this report.

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