Lake Forest teachers go on strike

September 12, 2012 8:59:48 PM PDT
Classes were canceled for more than 1,700 suburban students as teachers with Lake Forest District 115 hit the picket lines.

The suburban strike affects students in Lake Forest, Lake Bluff and Knollwood. At issue -- money and health benefits.

"It would be money out of my pocket. We took a pay freeze last year... And it would be a step back. I would be earning less this year than I did last year," Megan Stoll, teacher, said.

A union spokesperson echoed that sentiment, along with concerns about a proposed two-tier salary system that starts new teachers at a lower pay scale.

"It's a huge disadvantage to this school to hire and keep the best teachers," Chuck Gress, Lake Forest Education Association, said.

Teachers are also being asked to start contributing 10-percent to their family health plans.

Sharon Golan, president of Lake Forest District 115, said the board's offer reflects the tight economy and includes a proposal to raise salaries by 2.6 percent the first year and 3.4 percent for the following two years.

"It's really sad. This is a good place, and we're really disappointed things have turned out this way," Sharon Golan said. "And I know our students and families are, too."

Among the 1,718 students, there does seem to be understanding of reality of a teacher strike.

"I see both sides. But I think teachers have as much right to a fair contract as anyone does," Mollie Blahunka, student, said.

Lake Forest Community High School is open between 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. for students who need a place to go during the day. Lunch will be provided.

No new contract talks have been scheduled.

The Board of Education tells ABC7 it's open to meeting with the union but says the union has not agreed to meet again. The union disagrees, calling that statement "emphatically untrue."

The district said students make an average of $100,000. However, that number is disputed by the union for teachers with less seniority.

For more information on the Lake Forest teachers strike, visit www.lfhs.org.


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