Updated 01/16/13 – 5:38 p.m.
GRAYSLAKE (CBS) — About 4,000 elementary and middle school students in northwest suburban Grayslake and other nearby suburbs were missing school Wednesday, after their teachers went on strike late Tuesday night.
Teachers with Community Consolidated School District 46 had been meeting since Tuesday afternoon in a last-ditch effort to avoid a walkout, but could not reach an agreement after about eight hours of negotiations with a mediator.
The teachers have been working without a contract since last July, and authorized a strike in October after the school board declared an impasse.
CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey reports teachers said they have already agreed to a pay freeze for this year, but they want a small pay increase next year. However, the district has rejected that request.
A federal mediator has scheduled the next negotiation session for 10 a.m. Thursday at the Park Campus in Round Lake.
The teachers were out on the picket line Wednesday morning, a task made a bit more difficult in the freezing January weather. But they had no trouble defending their decision to walk out.
“What we’re offering for that one year is not going to put this district in any financial jeopardy whatsoever; nowhere close,” said Dave Comerford, spokesman for the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
Caught in the middle of it all are the students.
“I had to bring them to work,” said mother Patricia Sprenger. “They keep asking questions, so I said ‘Write your own, and you can go ask them.’”
Her daughter Arianna asked the teachers, “Do you care about kids’ education, and summer?”
“Mr. Quinn said ‘We care about your education more than summer,’” Arianna said. “Mrs. Murrow said ‘We care very much.’”
The self-proclaimed junior reporter teamed up with her brother Matthew to talk to the teachers.
“It’s a journalistic experience for them,” their mother said.
“We’re basically trying to get these guys to do everything they can do decline the strike,” Matthew said.
While teachers and district leaders remained at a standstill on Wednesday, the fight and questions continued.
It hasn’t been decided when – or if – students will make up missed school days.
District 46 Supt. Ellen Correll said that will be decided during final negotiations.
The district has made arrangements with nearby park districts to provide daycare services during the strike.
The Grayslake Park District and the Round Lake Area Park District were offering childcare with daily fees ranging between $26 and $30.
The school district’s “Champions” program also planned to operate daycare services at Prairieview School in Hainesville from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the strike. The Champions program at Meadowview School in Grayslake would be used as overflow, if needed.