A union representative says teachers in Grayslake-based District 46 who walked off the job this morning have offered to take a pay freeze for the current school year and await the school board's next move.
The school board president counters that the district must come to an agreement that keeps it "from going bankrupt" and that it currently faces a $1.2 million deficit even without any increase in teacher pay.
Meanwhile, district officials have announced that the
In what has become a familiar scene in the Chicago area this school year, about 330 teachers in Community Consolidated School District 46 went on strike after working without a contract since July and failing to reach an 11th-hour deal after a long negotiating session Tuesday.
"We are facing declining revenues from a lot of different sources along with everybody else struggling with the economy," school board President Ray Millington said. "Property values are decreasing, reducing tax revenues ... the state has decreased the amount of funding they are giving to us."
Dave Comerford, of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, asserted that talks broke off after the district refused to consider a union compromise proposal that included a pay freeze for the current year and raises of less than 4 percent for next year and higher raises for teachers who receive further education such as master's degrees.
The district serves 4,000 students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade at seven schools in Grayslake, Round Lake, Round Lake Beach and Hainesville.
The board did offer to pay all teachers a $1,000 stipend in the second year of the contract, 2013-14.
"The teachers are already willing to take a hard freeze for this year, we are looking for at least some compensation in the next year (at least) for those who achieve a master's and further higher education," he said. "You are expected to put out a lot of money to pay for that higher education on your own with the belief you will get that back over time."
Millington said the district is seeing declining enrollment, which results in even less state aid, he said.
"We did make them an offer, and it was less than they expected," he said. "We met extensively with them. We respect the teachers and want them to do well, but again, we just don't have the money."
Millington said he hopes there will be more negotiating meetings "in the next couple of days."
Diana Takiff, who has two children in the district, said she supports the teachers, while she also understands the financial burden put on the community. She is concerned the district will lose qualified, experienced teachers if they are not properly compensated.
"Retaining quality teachers is really important to us," she said.