CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago teachers began voting Wednesday on whether to authorize a strike, amid contract talks with the Chicago Public Schools, although a possible walkout is still months away.

The Chicago Teachers Union and the district remained far apart on terms for a new contract, despite more than a year of talks.

State law requires 75 percent of all CTU members to authorize a strike before teachers can walk out.

Union officials believe a yes vote would strengthen their bargaining position with the Emanuel administration.

“We need to have a way to convince the district and the mayor, ultimately, that things are serious, and it’s time to start negotiating seriously,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said. “At this point, negotiations are stuck going nowhere. We’re talking in circles. Teachers are frustrated about the lack of progress. They’re frustrated about the cuts that are being threatened. They’re frustrated about the violence that’s spilling over from the neighborhoods into the schools. So there’s anger, and we need some solutions at the bargaining table.”

Nicole Hand, an English teacher at Lindblom Academy, voted this morning in favor of a strike.

“Nobody wants to go on strike,” she said. “We want to be in our classrooms with our students but we’re fighting for student education.”

Hundreds of Lindbloom students showed their support by walking out of school today. They were also protesting the school board proposal to layoff some 5,000 teachers to fill a $480 million shortfall from the state.

Students had hoped to personally deliver their message to CEO Forrest Claypool, who had an event in the building, but he managed to slip through a side door and avoid the crowd.

“We’ve seen this throughout the system,” Claypool said. “Students are organizing to fight for their schools, to fight for fair funding, for equal funding.”

Claypool went on to reiterate the need for state lawmakers to provide equal funding for Chicago schools and accused the union of not joining the fight.

“They’re basically talking about a strike instead of a solution,” he said.

Union leaders say 90 percent of the teachers voted today. They expect the rest to cast their ballots tomorrow.

Even if CTU approves a strike during the three-day voting period the union’s 27,000 teachers wouldn’t be able to walk off the job until a state-mandated “fact-finding” process is completed.

That would take 105 days, and officials with the Chicago Public Schools have said it should not begin until early February, when significant layoffs could begin without more revenue from the state.

CPS is facing a budget shortfall of nearly half a billion dollars.

If teachers ultimately decide to walk out, classes would be canceled for more than 400,000 children at more than 600 schools.