A bargaining session was scheduled for noon today between teachers and officials in North Shore School District 112, where teachers have gone on
Classes at elementary and middle schools in Highland Park and Highwood were canceled this morning after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on teacher contracts during a late-night negotiating session.
Teachers marched on picket lines in front of six schools this morning. About 50 teachers in front of Lincoln School in Highland Park carried signs reading "I would rather be teaching," "Fair pay for hard work" and "Real teachers work nights and weekends and summers and make a difference."
"We hoped it wouldn't come to this," said Angela Scarim, a second grade teacher at Ravinia School.
Teachers and school board members have butted heads over salary, insurance benefits and reimbursement for continuing education.
"We are disappointed with what the district is offering," said Pamela Kramer, spokeswoman for the North Shore Education Association. "Their proposal would make us the worst paid in Lake County, behind
But school board President Bruce Hyman faulted the union, saying the district was committed to reaching a deal.
"The union responded to the board's proposals without offering any meaningful movement, and then demanded that the board counter its own proposal before midnight or face a strike," Hyman said.
The union's most recent contract offer includes a 3.1 percent salary increase in 2012 and a 3.2 percent increase in 2013, according to information on both parties' websites. The school board has proposed a 1.3 percent salary increase in 2012 and a 1.5 percent increase in 2013, according to both sites.
In 2011, the average teacher salary in District 112 was $70,500, compared to a statewide average of $65,000 according to the Illinois State Board of Education's school report card. The district's teachers also averaged 11.5 years of experience, compared to 13.2 years statewide. More than 75 percent of teachers in District 112 held masters or higher degrees, compared to 60.4 percent statewide.
In a message posted on its website, the district said classes would not be held today and all district buildings would be closed, except for the Green Bay Early Childhood Center, Oak Terrace Elementary, and
"Students who pre-registered for district activity centers may report to those centers today," the message said. "Those families will receive a separate phone call or email with more information."
All after-school and evening activities have been suspended, the district said.
Jeff Danna is a Tribune reporter; Susan Berger is a freelance writer.