Grayslake Elementary District 46 teachers Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to authorize union leaders to call a strike as a result of stalled contract negotiations.
Lake County Federation of Teachers union business agent Jim Pergander said 317 instructors voted in favor striking, if necessary, with three against. He said 320 of a potential 327 teachers cast ballots.
"It's still our intention to negotiate and not to strike," Pergander said.
Tuesday's vote came after District 46 officials last week declared talks for a new contract are at an impasse and the last, best offer has been made.
As part of a standard process, notice of the teachers' vote in favor of authorizing union leaders to call a strike must be served to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. After that occurs, the instructors will have to wait 10 calendar days to walk out.
Superintendent Ellen Correll said she hopes both sides return to the bargaining table.
"I continue to believe they (teachers) will be professional and do what's best for the kids," she said.
Pergander said base salary and extra duties are among the issues dividing the teachers and school board negotiators. He said another point of contention is the district's attempt to end 6 percent annual base salary raises over the final four years of employment for teachers who give their retirement notices.
Instead, Pergander said, the district wants to limit retiring teachers to 5 percent annual raises in their final three years of work.
Pergander said District 46 also is trying to reduce the teachers' benefits. Both sides may post their final, best offers with the educational labor relations board as soon as next week, he said.
Board President Ray Millington couldn't be reached for comment.
A federal mediator has been brought into the negotiations, officials said.
In 2008, District 46 teachers never walked off the job after voting in favor of striking and agreed to a three-year contract.
But the teachers union reworked the final year of the pact for the 2010-11 academic year by taking 2.75 percent raises instead of an originally scheduled 4 percent to help District 46 cover what at the time had been a $2.3 million budget hole.
In exchange for taking less money in 2010-11, teachers received a contract extension with raises of about 4 percent for the 2011-12 school season. The deal expired June 30, 2012.
District 46 is the latest suburban school system with labor unrest. Teachers at North Shore Elementary District 112 in the Highland Park area went on strike Tuesday.
On Sunday, instructors at Carpentersville-based Community Unit District 300 voted to authorize a strike. Lake Forest High School District 115 teachers hit the picket lines last month for a strike that lasted seven days.