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No Teachers Deal In Evergreen Park

Evergreen Park teachers picket on Thursday. (CBS)

Evergreen Park teachers picket on Thursday. (CBS)

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EVERGREEN PARK (CBS) — Negotiators in Evergreen Park School District 124 met for 6.5 hours Thursday but failed to reach agreement on a contract that would end the teachers strike that entered its fourth day on Friday.

A bargaining session is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at Central Junior High School with a federal mediator.

Talks began about 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the junior high, assisted by a mediator. District 124 board President Kathy Rohan emerged from the junior high shortly after 11 p.m.

“There’s no deal, unfortunately,” Rohan said. “There’s frustration on both sides. We both would like to see a settlement.

“I’m certain they would like to be in their classrooms as much as we would like to see them in their classrooms.”

She said the union hasn’t changed its salary demands since August, and the last two union offers Thursday night were identical.

“It became clear that the union is not interested in moving toward a settlement or getting students back into the classroom,” she said.

Deneen Pajeau, a field representative for the Illinois Federation of Teachers and member of the teachers union’s negotiating team, said the union gave the board an identical proposal in response to a board proposal to eliminate a measure tying salary bonuses to student test scores — which the union has opposed — but only in the first year of the contract.

“We felt that was not a big enough carrot to get us to move to a settlement,” Pajeau said.

Negotiators for both sides met Thursday in separate rooms, with the mediator going between them with proposals aimed at ending the strike that has kept about 1,800 students out of their classrooms since Tuesday morning.

The night ended, though, with two representatives from each side meeting together with the mediator and talking about salaries and health insurance, which Rohan called “a very good conversation.”

“We are hopeful tomorrow goes well,” she said.

Pajeau called it a “healthy discussion about how to get this done.”

“The way our conversation ended gave us a little more hope,” she said.

But did it bring them closer to a deal?

“Not necessarily,” Pajeau responded.

Details of each side’s proposals can be found at http://www.d124.org.

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