Strike situation quite different in D-46, D-300

As one school district is set this week to formally resolve longstanding collective bargaining disputes, another district sees a potential teachers strike.

Friday’s teacher strike at Prairie Grove School District 46 ended the same day after contract negotiating teams reached an undisclosed tentative deal.

The 74-member teachers union is expected to meet this week to vote on the agreement. Once ratified, the new deal spells an end to the tense contract talks that roiled the school community for almost two years.

However, it’s a starkly different picture for Carpentersville-based District 300, where a potential teachers strike looms.

Members of LEAD 300, the teachers’ union, are scheduled to meet today at Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville, the sixth-largest school district in the state, to decide whether to authorize a strike.

If a simple majority of its 1,300 members approves the measure, teachers can walk out 10 days from filing the notice of intent to district officials.

LEAD 300 President Kolleen Hanetho on Friday said the teachers are tired of giving contract concessions without receiving concessions from the board in return.

The union wants the district “to come in and bargain, and seriously do something drastic in this district to improve the learning conditions of the students,” she said Friday.

If District 300 teachers do strike, it would be the first for the school district since 1972.

The tentative deal at District 46 came after almost 22 months of bargaining and a seven-hour session that ended at 12:30 a.m. Friday.

The union called a strike, canceling classes Friday. Throughout the day, teachers and supporters picketed outside the district campus along Route 176 while negotiations took place inside the elementary school.

Parents asked officials to open Friday’s talks to the public, an uncommon move. Under the federal mediator’s guidance and with the OK of both sides, the public was allowed to observe what had been closed-door negotiations. There were no interruptions.

It helps,” said Christine Schmidt, a mother with a fifth-grader and a first-grader, who showed up in the school gymnasium where the talks took place. “When you have it out in the public, you have to be more wiling to negotiate in front of people.”

By 4:30 p.m. Friday, both sides reached an agreement.

The one-day strike was the first one in the school district’s history, teachers said.

When union members voted to authorize the strike back in the summer, they did so with deep reservations, said Cindy Slovacek, who teachers fourth- through eighth-grade math.

“We had tears,” she said. “There were people who were crying."

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