The teacher strike at Prospect Heights Elementary District 23 in Illinois could be coming to an end as the school board recently discussed its “best and final offer” with the union.
Since the strike began, over 1,500 students have missed more than six days of school.
Teachers in the district would like to receive higher pay. According to local union representatives, the 150 teachers who belong to the union are some of the lowest paid in the area, which has resulted in a low retention rate.
“Everybody wants to be back here. Everyone is negotiating in good faith, trying to find out what is that middle ground. The board really believes they have that offer on the table now,” said Supt. Debbie Wilson, Prospect Heights School District 23.
The proposal came early on Wednesday, a day students already had off from school for Yom Kippur. A push was made for the Prospect Heights Education Association to vote in the hopes of getting students back to school, but it did not happen, writes Melissa Silverberg for The Daily Herald.
“At this time there is no tentative contract,” union President Bob Miller said Wednesday night. “PHEA continued with negotiations throughout the day and into the early evening. Due to the Jewish holiday many PHEA members were unavailable to attend an evening meeting.”
Miller added that a member meeting would be held the following day, but did not say if a vote would take place at that time.
According to School board President Mari-Lynn Peters, the offer is final and no more negotiations would be made. She said she did not know what the result would be if the union did not accept the offer. “This is all the money we have, and it’s the best offer we can come up with,” Peters said.
The proposal offered by the board extends the contract from three years to four. Teachers would receive a 3.75% pay raise the first year, a 3.5% raise the second year, and a 3.25% raise each additional year. Teachers who make over $90,000 per year would gain a 3% raise the first year and a 2% raise each year thereafter.
Previously, the board had been unwilling to change its original offer to teachers, arguing that fiscal issues were causing issues that did not allow them to make another offer.
“The parents were really disappointed that they did not have a vote today (Wednesday),” Peters said. “Everyone was just kind of waiting.”
The 150 members of the union have been on strike for over a week as a result of the first walkout in the district’s history.