Grayslake Elementary District 46 teachers going on strike today

Grayslake Elementary District 46 teachers will be going on strike today after talks between their union and the school board broke down just after midnight this morning.

Contract negotiations had begun about 4 p.m. Tuesday and ended about eight hours later at Park Campus School in Round Lake. Teachers have been without a contract since July 1 and compensation is at the heart of the dispute.

Board President Ray Millington said early this morning he doesn't know when the two sides will resume negotiations. He and other board members expressed disappointment as they exited the school.

“We met for an extended period of time and several alternatives were discussed between the union and the board,” Millington said. “Unfortunately, we could not reach an agreement and the union has given notice they're going on strike.”

Lake County Federation of Teachers union business agent Jim Pergander said his side agreed to accept a “middle-of-the-road” proposal presented by a federal mediator, but the school board refused. He declined to elaborate.

Illinois Federation of Teachers spokesman Dave Comerford said the instructors tried to compromise to prevent the strike.

“I think the problem is, from the teachers' perspective, that they've got a board that's taking extreme positions,” Comerford 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.

Parent Shaun Mauritz, who visited Park Campus School for an event Tuesday night, said the teachers should receive a raise. He said his wife, a stay-at-home mother, will care for the couple's fourth-grader during the strike.

“We hope for a quick resolution,” Mauritz said.

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.”

Superintendent Ellen Correll has 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.

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.

District 46 plans to offer Prairieview School in Hainesville for children who need someplace safe to

spend their days if the 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.

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