Members of the Community Unit District 300 union said on Sunday that they would not accept the final offer for a new contract from the school board, setting the stage for a tense last day of negotiations before a strike could start as early as Tuesday.
"We put what the board is calling their final proposal in front of our members and they gave us a resounding no on accepting it," said Mike Williamson, LEAD spokesman on Sunday night. "We're going to to tell them that they have to do better than this."
Williamson said there wasn't a formal vote, but the hundreds of members who met at Dundee Crown High School on Sunday night were not happy with what the school board put forward.
Negotiations between the union and school board start on Monday at 8 a.m. with a strike possibly starting on Tuesday.
"At some point (Monday) the decision will be made about a strike," Williamson said. "If it's a long day, it's a long day. It's everyone goal to get through this without having to resort to that tool, so I'm hoping the board comes far enough that we don't have to go there."
Members are prepared to strike if Monday's negotiations don't go well. Strike signs and shirts were passed out to teachers at Sunday's meeting.
Williamson said the sticking issues are still compensation and class size.
"We need better compensation to attract and retain good teachers and the class size is just an education responsibility issue," he said.
In a letter to district employees, parents and the community, Superintendent Michael Bregy said the district is prepared to close all but three schools if teachers take to the picket line.
Bregy said the district would keep some schools open to assist parents who do not have other child care options available. The attendance centers will not provide instruction for students, Bregy said. Further information about attendance centers will be made available soon.
According to the district website, their final offer includes adding 28 teachers at the elementary level, making the maximum number of students per class in kindergarten through second grade 28 and the average for third through fifth grades 31 students per class. Ten high school and 10 middle school teachers would also be added, with the average class size for those levels, excluding PE and music, being 31 students per class.
The district has proposed salary increases of 3 percent for the 2012-13 school year, 2 percent in the second year and 3 percent in the third year. Those increases include the regular step increase each year.