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Article updated: 10/25/2013 10:17 AM

Mount Prospect District 57, teachers union turn to mediation

Michelle Walsh, president of the Mount Prospect Education Association, addresses the Mount Prospect Elementary District 57 school board during a recent meeting, with fellow union members behind her. The union and district have decided to ask a federal mediator to help them reach a contract agreement.

Michelle Walsh, president of the Mount Prospect Education Association, addresses the Mount Prospect Elementary District 57 school board during a recent meeting, with fellow union members behind her. The union and district have decided to ask a federal mediator to help them reach a contract agreement.

 

Photo courtesy of Carolyn Story

Michelle Walsh, president of the Mount Prospect Education Association, addresses the Mount Prospect Elementary District 57 school board during a recent meeting, with fellow union members behind her. The union and district have decided to ask a federal mediator to help them reach a contract agreement.

Michelle Walsh, president of the Mount Prospect Education Association, addresses the Mount Prospect Elementary District 57 school board during a recent meeting, with fellow union members behind her. The union and district have decided to ask a federal mediator to help them reach a contract agreement.

 

Photo courtesy of Carolyn Story

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Mount Prospect Elementary District 57 and its teachers union have decided to enlist the help of a federal mediator in ongoing contract negotiations.

The district announced the decision earlier this week. saying in a prepared statement that the decision was a joint one, and that the parties involved will attempt to "reach a contract agreement that is in the best interest of all District 57 stakeholders."

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District 57's teachers have been without a contract since June 30, when their previous deal expired. In the interim, teachers have been working under the terms of the old contract.

Union and district negotiators started meeting in March, but salaries and contract language have been sticking points for both sides.

In recent weeks, teachers have taken some of their concerns directly to the school board. At the Oct. 17 board meeting, for example, Mount Prospect Education Association President Michelle Walsh spoke about recent state laws that address the hiring, evaluation and retention of public-school teachers.

Walsh said the contract needs to provide clear guidelines about performance in light of those new laws. The school board offered no comment at the meeting, board President Karen Nejdl said.

A federal mediator helped the district and union negotiate the previous contract, which was approved in 2011. That deal froze base salary levels for both years of the pact and eliminated "step" pay increases during the first year. Step increases generally occur with each year of service a teacher completes.

The previous contract was approved at a time when the salaries of District 57 administrators had been frozen, too, in an effort to keep expenses down.

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