(CBS) — Students in Prospect Heights are treating tonight like a snow day, anxiously awaiting to hear if there will be school Wednesday morning.
Weather is not the issue, there is a teachers strike looming.
About 150 teachers in Prospect Heights are prepared to walk out of the classroom and onto the picket lines. The good news is as of 10 p.m., both sides are still talking.
Parents in Prospect Heights District 23 are worried about how a teacher strike would impact their children’s academics, but some understand the teachers’ perspective.
“I’m part of the work force so everybody has the right to ask for more,” said parent Winnie Magaru.
“We’ve got mixed feelings but these are probably some of the greatest teachers my sons could possibly have,” said Jennifer McGuire. “If this is what they need to do, then do it.
The teachers say they’re among the lowest paid in the area and are seeking increases of more than four percent for three years. The board is offering a little more than three percent.
“We’re hoping not to strike,” said teachers union spokesperson Bob Miller. “We want to be in the classroom with our kids, with our students but we have told them that if we do not have an agreement done by the end of negotiations tonight that we will have the first teachers strike in District 23 history.”
“To say this is how much I make and this is how much this person makes in this district, not so fast. You really have to look at the values of the homes,” said School Board President Mari-Lynn Peters.
Peters says the district has little wiggle room.
“We look at what people in our community are receiving as raises and we feel right around three percent is spot on,” she said. “I’m a parent too and it is unfortunate if we do end up with a strike. I hope we come up with some kind of resolution tonight.”
The teachers and the board of education have been talking since last March.
Before Tuesday night’s last ditch negotiation session, more than 100 chanting teachers lined the sidewalks and there were some parents joining in the demonstration.
“What they are asking for is not unfair and I would like the board of education to respect them as individuals, work with them,” said Mary Flessas.
Another parent looking on was less than supportive.
“My biggest concern is some of the pensions with public workers in general,” said parent Jason Variano. “In my next life I want to come back as a government employee with a pension.”
Going into Tuesday night’s session, one union negotiator was not optimistic.
“I would say there is a lot of frustration on our side of the table because we feel like we tried to make some sacrifices in order to come up with a deal,” said Dan Perillo with the teachers union.
If a strikes called, the district will notify parents with robo calls by 5 a.m. Wednesday. They have plans in place and daycare activities will be available at park districts in Wheeling, Arlington Heights and Prospect Heights through Friday.