Prospect Heights teachers to review board's 'best and final offer'

PROSPECT HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- The teachers strike in northwest suburban Prospect Heights may be closer to an end. The school board presented its "best and final offer" to the union Wednesday and is calling on teachers to vote.

More than 1,500 students have missed five days of school since the strike began.

Teachers are fighting for higher pay. Union officials said their 150 members are some of the lowest-paid in the area, leading to a lower retention rate.

Union officials arrived at district offices around 11 a.m. Wednesday to go over the board's proposal.

"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.

While the board's proposal doesn't completely satisfy the union's salary expectations, it does meet them partway.

The original three-year offer has been extended to four years. Pay increases for teachers making less than $90,000 a year range from 3.75 percent to 3.25 percent, depending on the year.

The board has previously been unwilling to modify its original offer to teachers in a significant way, citing fiscal issues. The last time both sides met on Sunday, teachers rejected the offer of a two-week period to cool off.

For working parents, who have spent five school days trying to make child care arrangements for their kids, a deal between both parties can't come soon enough.

"It's been hectic, arranging for him to be with me at work or staying at home, which didn't work out so well. He's bored and I'm frustrated. All the mothers are frustrated," said Ruth Gelfand, a Prospect Heights parent.

Wednesday was meant to be a day off of school for the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, so a vote is not expected until Wednesday night.

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