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Article posted: 2/6/2014 5:43 PM

No deal yet, but District 57, union still talking

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Teacher-contract talks continue in Mount Prospect Elementary District 57, and while no deal has been reached, both sides express cautious optimism that it will happen soon.

"We're committed to getting this done," School Board President Karen Nejdl said Thursday.

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Negotiators from the district and the Mount Prospect Education Association, the local union, had a five-hour bargaining session Wednesday night. Additional sessions are scheduled for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

"That shows that we plan to keep talking, to move this forward," Nejdl said. "I believe the union feels the same way."

Contract talks have been under way in District 57 for nearly a year. The teachers' last deal expired on June 30, 2013.

Issues related to compensation, professional development and new state laws governing teacher evaluations are among the sticking points in the talks. Summaries of recent offers from both the union and the district are available on the district's website, d57.org.

Frustrated with how long the talks have taken, the union on Jan. 30 filed notice of an intent to strike. Carolyn Story, spokeswoman for the union, said that teachers will do everything they can to avoid taking that action.

The district, in the meantime, is developing a plan for what to do in the event of a strike, Nejdl said.

"We need to have something in place," she said. "A strike would be bad for our teachers and students, obviously, but also for parents and families. So we're looking at ways to minimize some of that."

Negotiations will continue with the help of a federal mediator. A mediator helped the district and union negotiate the previous contract, which was approved in 2011. That deal froze teachers' 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 of financial uncertainty in the district; the salaries of District 57 administrators were frozen, too, in an effort to keep expenses down.

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