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District 211 begins countdown to strike
By Ashok Selvam | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/20/2007 12:01 AM

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The countdown to a possible teachers strike in Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 has begun.

Superintendent Roger Thornton confirmed he received the union's intent-to-strike papers Friday morning. That means the union could set a strike date after a 10-day waiting period. With Friday's filing, the 10 business days will elapse on Nov. 2.

"We are preparing for a strike," Thornton said.

State labor law requires teachers to give schools at least a 10-day warning before striking. The union voted to file the strike documents on Monday after rejecting the district's final salary offer.

A strike could still be avoided. That happened in 2005, when the union also filed strike intentions but reached a deal before any work stoppage.

Since last spring, the two sides have been attempting to negotiate a base-salary raise for the current school year. The final district offer was for one year with a 2.5 percent raise in base pay. The teachers asked for what amounts to a 4.1 percent base-pay increase, factoring in a requested lump sum payment.

The average teacher salary in District 211 as of 2006 topped $83,000, ranging from about $44,000 for a starting teacher to more than $100,000 at the top end.

The union wants salaries comparable to those in surrounding districts, like Northwest Suburban High School District 214, whose teachers are getting a 4.25 percent base-pay raise this year. District officials don't want to spend recklessly, saying salaries should be close to the rate of inflation.

The teachers are getting step increases over 2007-08, though not a base-salary hike. The current deal allowed for the final year to renegotiated. Talks began in May and crumbled in August. Federal mediation failed to bring the two sides closer.

The teachers union also announced plans to picket at Thursday's school board meeting at district headquarters in Palatine.