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Our view: Kudos to D46 teachers

We applaud teachers in Prairie Grove District 46 for continuing to work during tough contract negotiations with the school board.

Unlike the Chicago Teachers Union, which left students and parents stranded for the better part of two weeks earlier this month when its members went on strike, District 46 teachers are putting children first by staying on the job even though negotiations have stalled.

They deserve our thanks and respect, regardless of which side you support during contract negotiations.

In contrast, Chicago teachers walked off the job for eight days during their contract dispute. Nearly 400,000 students were unable to attend school as teachers walked the picket line.

In District 46, which serves about 1,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, teachers and the district have been bargaining for a new 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.

It looked last week like the two sides were close to reaching an agreement, but a three-hour negotiating session on Monday was a setback.

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

The union has filed a required 10-day “intent-to-strike” notice with the district, but to date hasn’t set a strike date. We urge union members not to do so.

We understand negotiations have been frustrating, but staying on the job through the process will go a long way toward maintaining the respect of students, parents and administrators.

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