Grayslake District 46 employees to strike Thursday, shutting down schools

Teachers and support employees in Grayslake Elementary School District 46 will strike Thursday, officials announced.

No classes, extracurricular activities, after-school programs or before-school programs will be held.

The school board announced the pending strike in an email and on the district website following an unsuccessful negotiating session with the unions representing the two employee groups.

"We are deeply disappointed," the board's statement reads.

Leah Brown, president of the Grayslake Federation of Paraprofessionals and Support Staff, said employees want a fair wage so they an afford to live where they work. Some earn less than $15 an hour, the union said.

"We don't work in public education to get rich," Brown said in a news release Wednesday.

Negotiations are set to resume Thursday night.

District officials created an online guide for parents needing child-care options at

Families whose children rely on the schools for free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch can access food at local food banks. A list is at

District 46 educates about 3,700 students from Grayslake, Third Lake, Hainesville, Round Lake, Round Lake Park, Round Lake Beach and Lake Villa at its seven schools. Its staff includes more than 300 teachers and about 180 support workers, board President Jim Weidman said. The support staff includes maintenance workers, nurses, secretaries and librarians, among other types of employees.

Pay is the only issue dividing the two sides.

Teachers and support workers are two years into four-year contracts that expire in summer 2021. Under the terms of that deal, the board and unions agreed to hold off on determining the amount of pay raises for the contracts' final two years, leaving salary hikes for the current and next school years undetermined.

The decision to defer was made because the district's financial future "was uncertain" when the four-year pact was reached, according to documents filed with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. At this point, however, the unions say the district is healthier financially and in a better position to give pay increases, documents indicate.

"We're simply asking for what's fair to our teachers and staff based on that financial assessment," Michele Beye, president of the Grayslake Federation of Teachers, said Wednesday in an news release.

According to the school board, its latest offer would provide teachers with up to 18 years of experience with a 3.8% pay hike for each of the next two years, and teachers with more than 18 years experience a 3% raise. All support staff would receive a 3.8% hike.

The teachers union had been seeking 4.6% raises for teachers with up to 18 years' experience for the current school year and again for the 2020-21 term, and 4.1% raises for teachers with 19 to 32 years of experience, according to documents filed with the labor board.

The union for the support staffers requested 4.6% raises regardless of experience level.

The unions adjusted that those requests last week, but the figures weren't made public.

District 46 employees last walked out in 2013. The strike lasted three days.

Parents and other community members can check for updates.

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