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Teachers’ Strike Ends In Lake Forest

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Lake Forest Teachers' Strike

Teachers at Lake Forest High School are on strike. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 09/19/12 7:35 a.m.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Teachers in Lake Forest say they have settled their contract dispute, and their strike is coming to an end.

The Lake Forest Education Association says on its Web site that the contract is settled, and Wednesday will be a normal school day for all Lake Forest schools.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

The Lake Forest Community High School District 115 board president confirmed to WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger that the strike is over.

“We would like to announce that we were able to reach a tentative agreement with the Union,” Board President Sharon Golan said in a statement. “We are pleased that our teachers and students will be back in the classroom in the morning.”

Twelve and a half hours of contract talks that ended at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday produced the new deal, which still needs to be ratified by both sides.

In the meantime, though, Chuck Gress – a math teacher who speaks for the union – says the teachers are putting down their picket signs and going back to class after the first strike district’s history.

“It’s going to take some time for us to get past what happened. All of this unpleasantness could have been avoided, and now what we have to do is to go back to school and put together the pieces,” Gress said.

The resolution comes within 24 hours of a similar settlement by Chicago teachers. Chicago Public Schools students will also return to normal classes on Wednesday.

Lake Forest High School teachers were on strike for five days, although since Monday, students have been attending school anyway.

The administration says 1,400 students showed up Monday. There were 70 certified substitute teachers who conducted classes.

There are 150 teachers that work at Lake Forest High School, and they have been on strike since Sept. 12.

The biggest sticking points in contract talks in Lake Forest were a two-tiered salary system for teachers, and benefits.

Teachers said they accepted a pay freeze last year due to the down economy, and now they say the school board is trying to lock in those sacrifices by creating a two-tiered system of hiring, in which new teachers won’t be paid at the same rate as current employees.

About 80 Lake Forest teachers earn more than $100,000 a year, in a town with a median household income that’s about twice that. But union spokesman Chuck Gress said the new hires start at $50,000, and have much less opportunity for big pay raises.

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