Highland Park teachers edge closer to strike
Updated: September 28, 2012 5:12PM
HIGHLAND PARK — The teachers’ union in North Shore District 112 Friday filed a 10-day strike notice with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.
The action sends a strong signal that the 400-plus teachers in the district are prepared to strike if there is no movement at the next federal mediation session Oct. 4.
The earliest teachers could strike is Oct. 12, or 28 calendar days after the North Shore Education Association formally declared that negotiations had reached an impasse on Sept. 14, according to the school district.
The district serves about 4,300 pupils in Highland Park, Highwood and Fort Sheridan.
Pamela Kramer, president of the North Shore Education Association, said Friday that the union filed the strike notice before the upcoming mediation session because the School Board had shown no interest in compromise.
She said the union’s final offer, filed with the state Sept. 21, represented significant concessions since the last mediation session Sept. 12, while the board’s final offer remained unchanged.
“We don’t have wiggle room at this point,” she said.
The contract dispute between the North Shore Education Association and the School Board centers on economic issues — everything from base salary and pay upgrades tied to education, to pre-retirement pay boosts and health insurance premiums.
Board President Bruce Hyman Friday expressed the board’s disappointment with the union’s action and said the board remains committed to achieving a settlement that is both fair and ensures the long-term stability of the district.
“We cannot repeat the past,” said Hyman. “This is not about whether or not we value our teachers. They are the heart of our school district,” he said.
The district wants to ensure sufficient resources going forward to provide “superb working conditions,” including reasonable class sizes, adequate support personnel in the classroom and programs that foster innovation.
The district is making plans to keep some facilities open as activity centers, in the event of a strike, to provide a safe and structured environment for children.
The district has reached out to other governments and social service agencies about alternative programming, according to a statement released late Friday.
The schools that would be open as activity centers are the Green Bay Early Childhood Center, Oak Terrace School, Northwood School and possibly Sherwood School.
The facilities would be staffed by administrators, support staff and volunteers, Hyman said. The days would not count as regular school days, and educational programming would not be provided.