Negotiators for West Chicago High School District 94 and its teachers union will return to the bargaining table Wednesday with the looming threat of a possible strike.
After nearly two years of talks, the two sides remain far apart on salaries, health benefits and other key issues that led the union first to declare an impasse and then last week to file a 10-day notice of its intent to strike, allowing teachers to walk off the job as early as Feb. 12.
The two sides are scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. Wednesday and 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12, in what may be a last-ditch effort to reach an agreement without a job action.
Union members have agreed to enter into a lease for a potential strike headquarters in downtown West Chicago.
Union President Brad Larson said the association that represents 194 teachers will bring a new salary proposal to the table on Wednesday. Teachers also will stage an informational picket from 4:45 until 6 p.m. outside district offices while negotiators are meeting.
Nearly 2,100 students could be left out of classes should teachers strike for the first time since 1984. The district is making arrangements with park districts and libraries in Carol Stream, Winfield and West Chicago to offer programming in the event teachers walk picket lines.
All sports and activities also would be canceled, Superintendent Doug Domeracki said in a letter to parents.
The district would notify families of an impending strike through its automated phone call system and updates on its website, D94.org. Parents also can opt to receive text messages.
During a bargaining session Jan. 22, the school board presented a new wage offer that would increase salaries for union members by an average of roughly 12 percent over four years.
Union negotiators said their most recent offer sought an average 17 percent salary increase over the course of a four-year contract.
The board and the union started preliminary contract discussions in April 2016.