Lake Villa teachers set strike date

Updated 2/18/2016 5:14 PM

Teachers in Lake Villa Elementary District 41 may strike Feb. 29 if they don't settle contract negotiations with administrators by then, a union representative announced Thursday.

The teachers set the strike date after 10 months of contract talks.


District administrators and the Lake Villa Federation of Teachers met with a mediator Wednesday for a lengthy negotiation session that didn't produce a deal, said Kenzo Shibata, a spokesman for the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

"It was clear after our all-day bargaining session on Wednesday that retaining -- and raising -- the quality of education in Lake Villa is low on the list of the district's priorities," said Melissa Merges, a physical education teacher who's president of the Lake Villa teachers union.

Merges accused the school board of stalling negotiations.

"Unfortunately, we may have to strike to move talks forward," she said. "We don't want to strike, but the board may force us to take that step."

No additional talks are scheduled before the strike date.

In a letter sent to parents Thursday, District 41 officials said they are "hopeful" negotiations will continue and a strike can be avoided.

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Even so, officials said they are speaking with child care providers and community organizations to develop options for students -- and parents -- if a strike occurs.

The Lake Villa teachers authorized a strike vote in January. The district employs about 180 teachers.

According to Shibata, the union is asking for "modest" pay raises and classroom-based reforms "to improve teaching and learning."

The school board has said the sides are divided on issues including starting salary and medical insurance.

The last teachers strike in the North or Northwest suburbs occurred in October 2015 in McHenry High School District 156. Prospect Heights District 23 teachers went on strike in September.

In Lake County, Waukegan Unit District 60 teachers went on strike in 2014.

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