Both sides of the bargaining table for Prairie Grove School District 46 teachers' union contract report progress Monday after a specially scheduled negotiations meeting.
While all terms are not yet finalized, discussions went well enough for administrators to announce on the school website that students should report to classes tomorrow at the district's elementary and junior high school serving approximately 900 students at 3223 Route 176, Crystal Lake.
"We are pleased to report after meeting for nine hours today, the PGTA felt significant progress was made. We are optimistic that a settlement is at hand, and plan to meet again on Sept. 24," the PGTA Negotiation Team said in a press release issued at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
District 46 Superintendent Lynnette Zimmer issued a statement on the school website echoing positive tone from the day of negotiations.
"The Board and the teacher teams have had another productive meeting today," Zimmer said. "School will continue to operate as scheduled...We remain optimistic that we will be able to reach an agreement."
Teachers in District 46 have been without a contract for a full year now. Without a finalized agreement, instructors have been working under imposed conditions not agreed to by the PGTA since July 27, the union representatives said.
The two sides have been hashing out terms of new agreement for nearly 21 months, but talks reached a standstill in May when the teachers union declared an impasse.
The non-resolved issues are primarily financial: salary, extra duty assignments and pay, insurance and the impact of the board's decision to delete the retirement enhancement payment.
Last month, the union of 73 teachers overwhelmingly approved a strike authorization vote, which means they are prepared to strike, if necessary. However, a strike date has not been set.
More information about the ongoing negotiations can be found in the following Crystal Lake-Cary Patch articles:
No Resolution in Prairie Grove Teachers Contract Negotiations
Prairie Grove Teachers and District 46 to Hold Negotiation Session on Thursday
Poll: Prairie Grove Teachers Vote to Strike, Should They?
Prairie Grove Teachers File Impasse in Contract Negotiations