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updated: 12/14/2012 4:02 PM

District 33 school board to address contract stalemate

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Daily Herald report

With teacher contract talks at a standstill in West Chicago Elementary District 33 and teachers threatening to strike as early as Jan. 7, the school board will hold a town-hall meeting Dec. 19 to discuss its offer with residents and answer questions.

The session is scheduled for 7 p.m. at West Chicago Middle School, 238 E. Hazel St. The board also will meet with district employees at 7 p.m. Dec. 18 at the same location.

The two sides have been negotiating for roughly 14 months and several key issues remain on the table, including salaries, pensions and health care benefits. Other unresolved issues include class sizes, teacher workloads and the length of teacher work days.

The two sides have not met since Dec. 3 when the school board declared an impasse in negotiations.

School board members said Friday the district faces "major financial difficulties" due primarily to the state's fiscal crisis and declining property tax revenues. They said the district has cut programs over the past three years but still faces ongoing deficits that have consumed its reserves.

The district's deficit was more than $1.4 million over the past two years and the projected deficit for next year is more than $3 million, officials said.

Teachers say they feel undervalued by a school board that seems to be pushing them toward a strike. The teachers filed an intent to strike notice Thursday.

Both sides say they want to return to the bargaining table but no talks have been scheduled.

The district serves roughly 4,000 students.

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