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UPDATED 01/05/12 7:17 a.m.
ZION, Ill. (CBS) — Teachers in Zion-Benton Township High School District 126 in Lake County say they are going ahead with a strike.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, more than 2,800 students at Zion-Benton Township High School and New Tech High at Zion-Benton East are out of school, after their 165 teachers decided to walk out Thursday morning.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports
The Lake County News-Sun reports the Zion-Benton Federation of Teachers, which represents about 300 employees, planned to go on strike immediately if no settlement was reached with the school board in a negotiation session that started at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Health insurance and pay are the major stumbling blocks. The school district wants to change the union salary scale so that it would take teachers nearly twice as long for teachers to reach the top pay, the News-Sun reports.
Teachers are also being asked to pay for any increases in health insurance premiums out of their own pockets, the newspaper reported.
The district’s Web site says talks lasted until 3:30 a.m. Thursday, and the district says progress was being made on monetary issues at the time teachers decided to strike.
An attorney for the district told the News-Sun that no one can legally stop the teachers from striking, but the district thinks it is “unfortunate” and “unnecessary.”
The most recent state school report card for the district says teachers are paid on average more than $69,000 a year.
Because there is no school, athletics and extracurricular activities are canceled until further notice.