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Article posted: 12/13/2012 4:16 PM

More negotiating expected before Grayslake District 46 teachers' strike date

By Bob Susnjara

Grayslake Elementary District 46 officials and the teachers union expect another bargaining session will occur before a scheduled strike date next month, if the instructors remain without a new contract.

Union and school district negotiators last met Nov. 28. Attorney Kevin Gordon, who represents the school board in the contract talks, said at a District 46 town hall meeting that both sides have needed to "cool off."

District 46 is offering a two-year deal instead of a contract for only the 2012-13 academic season. Teachers still would not receive base salary hikes, but the latest proposal calls for a $1,000 stipend paid to them in the 2013-14 school year if they have not submitted a retirement notice. While both sides agree on the contract length, they remain apart on compensation. Teachers have announced they'll strike Jan. 16 if a new agreement isn't reached.

No contract talks are scheduled. However, Lake County Federation of Teachers union business agent Jim Pergander said Thursday he expects a federal mediator will call the sides together after the Christmas break ends in early January.

Gordon said he also anticipates the sides will meet again.

"We've gotten to the point where the teachers and the board feel like they can't make any further proposals at this point," Gordon said at Tuesday's special town hall meeting that focused on the contract talks. "The board has had a proposal out there for the last two mediation sessions, but the teachers did not want to change their proposal and we're kind of driven to where we are now."

Under District 46's reworked proposal, raises based on longevity and education would not be provided to teachers in either of the two years. Stipends for extracurricular and supervisory duties would be frozen at current levels. Instructors initially sought 3 percent base salary raises in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years. Pergander said the union has dropped the request for base salary hikes. However, Pergander said, the teachers still object to the district's proposal that would eliminate varying raises based on longevity and education. The union's revised offer calls for those hikes that are due in 2012-13 to be delayed to the 2013-14 school year.

Pergander contends the union has made the most movement in the talks, demonstrated by scrapping the proposal for 3 percent base pay increases for two consecutive school years. The instructors' last contract expired June 30.

"I find it interesting (the district) is portraying themselves as magnanimous and our side as dug in," he said.

Meanwhile, teachers unhappy with their contract situation distributed fliers to those arriving for a Wednesday event at Frederick School in Grayslake. The teachers' action came a day after District 46's town hall meeting.

"The board of education's demand for a two-year wage freeze will make our district less competitive with area schools that are providing 6 percent increases over the same period," the flier says in part. "Please support Grayslake teachers in our efforts to receive a fair and equitable contract that will ensure your children continue to receive the education they deserve."

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