The past 24 hours have been turmultuous for teachers, students, parents, and administrators of Prairie Grove School District 46.
On Thursday night, a negotiations session between the Prairie Grove Teachers Association and the School Board did not go well, especially when, after five hours, it was determined both sides weren't on the same page - or contract.
"We're not sure which contract they were working off," said PGTA spokesman Brad Piech, an 8th-grade teacher for Prairie Grove Jr. High. "We had a mediator, and after five hours they (PGTA negotiating team and school board negotiating team) realized they were working off two different contracts."
Between 8 to 10 p.m., nearly 100 parents packed the school - at one time squeezing into the main office when they weren't allowed to listen in on discussions.
Later in the evening, a few parents and teachers expressed frustrustration with the board and accused members of dragging out negotiations, which started 22 months ago. By 12:30 a.m., the PGTA decided to initiated a formal strike, and the district's automatic calling service began calling families about 5 a.m. that school would be closed Friday.
"My third-grade daughter was absolutely hysterical this morning when school was cancelled," said Tiffany Luri, who was at the school Friday with her husband, Mike, to watch the negotiations. "She thinks it's unfair that she has to miss school."
In the meantime, the 73 teachers hit the picket line. Armed by a huge selection of picketing signs, banners and a bullhorn the teachers marched along Route 176 in front of the school Friday. Several cars and trucks honked horns in support of the workers.
Many parents and students turned up at the school to show their support as well. By noon, news crews from every Chicagoland television station had arrived in the school's parking lot to report breaking news of the strike.
And after bargaining from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., a tentative agreement was reached between boths sides. The terms of the agreement are expected to be released by the PGTA, but the negotiating team wanted to present them first to the PGTA members.
"The taxpayers win, the teachers win, the students win, and the community wins," Steven Todd, a member of the PGTA negotiating team said of the tentative agreement.
The PGTA must ratify the contract, which will expire in August 2015, and the School Board must award its approval before the four-year contract is finalized. Teachers in the district worked all last year without a finalized deal, and have been working on a contract imposed upon them by the district since July.
But school will resume this Monday, and members of the seventh-grade girls volleyball team will play in their conference tournament on Saturday as planned. Several members of the team hung out at the school, waiting to learn whether they would play, or not.
Prairie Grove School District 46 is located at 3223 Route 176 on the far east side of Crystal Lake. It has two schools and serves about 900 students.