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updated: 1/2/2013 4:25 PM

District 33 resuming contract talks

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The West Chicago Elementary District 33 school board and its teachers union are set to resume negotiations Thursday and Friday in hopes of reaching an agreement and heading off a possible strike after roughly 16 months at the bargaining table.

The two sides will meet with a federal mediator for the first time since talks broke down on Dec. 3.

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The teachers union served the district with an intent to strike notice late last month. Teachers could walk off the job as early as Jan. 7 -- the first day students are scheduled to return to classes following winter break.

But Mary Catherine Kosmach, the union's chief negotiator, said if a strike does occur, it won't be until after a scheduled Jan. 9 meeting with all 284 members of the teachers association.

Officials from both parties have said they hope to avoid a walkout.

"The teachers in District 33 are hoping to reach a fair agreement through mutual compromise, which has been our goal from the beginning" Kosmach said.

The two sides continue to differ on several key issues that include health insurance costs, salary and benefits, class sizes and teacher workdays.

Both sides said they will inform parents if and when a strike date is set so they can make necessary preparations.

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