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posted: 1/22/2014 6:16 PM

Union: Recent bargaining session in Dist. 57 "fruitful"

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A short time after expressing frustration about ongoing teacher-contract talks, the union representing teachers in Mount Prospect Elementary District 57 said that a face-to-face bargaining session held this week was productive.

Negotiators from the Mount Prospect Education Association and the district met Tuesday night, union spokeswoman Carolyn Story said. It was the first face-to-face meeting since the two sides agreed to bring a federal mediator into the talks. Typically, a mediator works with each side separately.

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"The meeting was very cordial, and the discussion was fruitful," Story said. "We felt good about how it went. Talking directly to each other seemed to help."

The two sides are expected to meet again on Feb. 5. Story didn't know whether that would be a face-to-face session. School board President Karen Nejdl could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The union's positive response to Tuesday's session comes just days after it announced the filing of a formal impasse notice with the state because of what the union described as a lack of progress in the talks. Story said that while the impasse notice still stands, the union continues to hope that a deal will be reached in the near future.

District 57 teachers have been without a contract since the last one expired on June 30 of last year. Compensation and contract language regarding teacher evaluations and "reduction in force" procedures have been among the issues of contention.

Last week, Nejdl issued a statement in which she reasserted the district's desire to draft a contract that's fair to teachers, students and taxpayers. In response to the suggestion of an impasse, she pointed out that the two sides have been meeting regularly, with five sessions scheduled between Jan. 7 and Feb. 10. The board's statement is available on the district's website, d57.org.

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