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posted: 1/12/2013 11:33 AM

Grayslake District 46 forming plans in event of teachers' strike Wednesday

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  • Grayslake Elementary District 46 Superintendent Ellen Correll listens to public comments as board members hosted a town-hall meeting last week regarding a possible teachers strike.

       Grayslake Elementary District 46 Superintendent Ellen Correll listens to public comments as board members hosted a town-hall meeting last week regarding a possible teachers strike.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Sarah Watters of Grayslake asks questions during a town-hall meeting at Grayslake Middle School last week that dealt with a potential teachers strike. Grayslake Elementary District 46 hosted the session.

       Sarah Watters of Grayslake asks questions during a town-hall meeting at Grayslake Middle School last week that dealt with a potential teachers strike. Grayslake Elementary District 46 hosted the session.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 

Grayslake Elementary District 46 has made provisions to help parents with child care if teachers strike as planned Wednesday.

However, while two schools would be available for children to spend their days with adult supervision, there won't be an immediate attempt to continue classes in buildings staffed with replacement teachers, District 46 Superintendent Ellen Correll said. The district began seeking replacement teacher applications in late December.

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District 46 board President Ray Millington and Lake County Federation of Teachers union business agent Jim Pergander said that about six hours of negotiations that went into late Friday didn't result in much progress. Compensation is at the heart of the dispute.

Contract talks are expected to resume Tuesday afternoon. Teachers have been without a deal since July 1 and intend to strike Wednesday if an agreement isn't reached by then.

"The school board has attempted to discuss different scenarios with the union," Millington said. "Unfortunately, the union hasn't accepted or countered any of our attempts to resolve the issues."

But Pergander said the union has made an effort to end the contract stalemate.

"We floated the idea that we could accept a one-year deal with an average raise of (nearly) 2 percent," Pergander said.

Negotiations between the district and the union began in February 2012. District 46's latest, publicly known offer is a two-year deal under which teachers would not receive base salary hikes or step increases for longevity. Teachers would get a $1,000 stipend paid to them in the 2013-14 school year if they have not submitted a retirement notice.

Correll said preparations have been made to keep open Meadowview School in Grayslake and Prairieview School in Hainesville for children who need someplace safe to spend their days if the district's roughly 325 instructors are idle. With an enrollment of nearly 4,000 pupils, District 46 has seven schools that serve parts of Grayslake, Third Lake, Hainesville, Round Lake, Round Lake Park, Round Lake Beach and Lake Villa.

"If the strike occurs on Wednesday," Correll said, "we can expect that I will have child care available at Meadowview and Prairieview. I'll make sure that it's available at those two buildings for anybody in the district."

Correll added that telephone calls from an automated system will alert parents Tuesday night if the strike is on.

On Dec. 20, the district began seeking replacement teachers to work on a temporary basis should the regular instructors strike. Officials said the school board "may consider providing services to students during a strike, if feasible." At a town-hall meeting last week, parent Colleen Wade questioned how the district would function with replacement instructors, given they wouldn't be familiar with the curriculum or students. She said the district owes it to parents to fully explain what school would be like with substitute instructors so they could decide whether their children should attend classes.

"The environment that you (would) be giving is not much above a day care-type service, which may be OK if that's what you want to do," Wade said.

Correll said the district would not move quickly to hold classes with replacement teachers. She said applications are being accepted and all candidates would be interviewed.

"I understand the concerns of the parents, making sure that the schools are safe," Correll said. "And we would never open the entire district at one time. It would be one building at a time to make sure that, if that happened, we would clearly communicate which building, what time and all of that to parents."

Under District 46's latest proposal, raises based on longevity and additional 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 hikes in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years but have dropped that request. However, the teachers still object to the district's proposal that would eliminate varying raises based on longevity and education.

Union members also have balked at the district's effort to end 6 percent annual base salary raises over the final four years of employment for teachers who give their retirement notices.

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