West Chicago Elementary School District 33 teachers and the board of education declared an impasse Monday night after failing to reach an agreement.
The declaration comes after 14 months of negotiations and two months spent with a federal mediator.
Once an impasse has been declared, both sides have a two-week deadline to make their final offers public. Talks may continue until then.
The district's 280 teachers have worked without a contract since Aug. 30. Key issues include built-in salary increases and rising health insurance costs.
"The board values our teachers and their role in our community. We believe that teachers in our district are dedicated, talented and professional, and that they deserve fair compensation that is commensurate with industry norms. The challenges we are confronting have nothing to do with how much we value our teachers. It has everything to do with what we can afford," said board of education President Dr. Chris Scheck in a statement. "As a district, we are facing serious economic difficulties, driven by the serious budget problems that the state of Illinois is encountering. We have already made substantial program cuts. We have reduced administrative personnel, and negotiated concessions with other bargaining units. We are committed to an agreement that is good for students, fair to teachers, and fiscally responsible to the community."
District 33 includes about 4,000 students at six elementary schools, one middle school and a preschool that meets at two locations.