Teachers' strike looms in Highland Park

October 15, 2012 (CHICAGO)

North Shore School District 112 includes more than 4,000 in the Highland Park area.

Union leaders and their negotiating team brought computer equipment and snacks as they walked into what was expected to be a late night of bargaining with the school board Monday. Two issues being discussed are salary and benefits. For the latest information on negotiations, check the district's website.

"There are just issues that are deal-breaking issues for us. Insurance is part of it for part-time people," said Pamela Kramer, North Shore Education Association.

Before the session teachers rallied outside district headquarters. They already voted to authorize a strike, and said if there was no deal by midnight they will not be in their classrooms Tuesday. School board officials are preparing for that possibility.

"I've had thousands and thousands of parents as well as community members reach out to me, supporting the board," said Dr. Bruce Hyman, board president.

If they strike, Highland Park's 425 teachers would join teachers from Chicago, Evergreen Park, Lake Forest, and Crystal Lake, whose contract negotiations gaveled to a walkout.

Experts say the poor economy now has shrunk school budgets, but there are other reasons behind all the strikes.

"It's about feeling disenfranchised and disempowered as much as it about tenure, pay and other issues," said Prof. Andrea Kayne Kaufman, DePaul University College of Education

The uncertainty about a possible strike has left many parents in the lurch, not knowing whether they need childcare for kids who might have no school Tuesday.

"It's inconvenient. I'm a working mom so I kind of cherish my two hours at home and getting things done and making sure that everything is in place, but you kinda have to understand both sides of it," said Amy Lauer, parent.

Highland Park parents will get a call at 5 a.m. Tuesday about whether or not there will be a strike. Officials recommend parents have an alternative plan.

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