Contract talks fail for D-46

CRYSTAL LAKE – What was expected to be School District 46’s final bargaining session turned into another failure in contract negotiations and, as of Tuesday night, no more talks were scheduled.

The Prairie Grove Teachers’ Association in an email said the group was “very disappointed with the outcome” of Monday’s three-hour negotiating session.

Without offering details, the union’s bargaining team said it was “frustrated with the lack of productive discussions” with school board negotiators.

Contract talks weren’t on the agenda when the school board met for its regularly scheduled committee of the whole meeting Tuesday night, but several teachers attended at the junior high school library at 3225 Route 176 in Crystal Lake.

Kathy Krepel, a negotiating team member and band teacher, pressed the school board to “think outside the box” with the union to settle disputes soon.

The union and district are reportedly divided over issues of salary, extra-duty stipends, health insurance and the district ’s decision to eliminate post-retirement payments, including insurance reimbursements.

The standstill in negotiations comes after the union reported “significant progress” in a nine-hour bargaining session Sept. 17. Then, both sides appeared optimistic and signaled that a pact was imminent.

District 46 serves about 1,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Teachers and the district have been bargaining for a contract since Jan. 31, 2011.

Teachers worked under the contract that expired Aug. 26, 2011, until July 27, when the school board imposed the district’s “last best and final offer” on the teachers.

The union, which has filed a required 10-day “intent-to-strike” notice with the district, hasn’t set a strike date.

Union members reiterated Tuesday that teachers will continue to show up for work.

“The teachers agree that a strike at this point would be unfair to our students because our students expect us to do the right thing. Our members continue to do the right thing by choosing not to go on strike at this time,” said Paulina Levy, union co-president and junior high teacher.

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