Editor's Note: This story was updated to reflect the following corrections: The board proposes to give teachers who are not retiring a $1,000 stipend related to salary in year two, and the union is in agreement with the board to freeze extracurricular and supervisory stipends at their current amounts for the next two school years.
Some progress was made at the last bargaining session between the District 46 School Board and teachers' union on Wednesday, but a contract agreement has yet to be reached.
Therefore, the union's Jan. 16 strike date still stands.
No future negotiating sessions have been scheduled, said Jim Pergander, business agent for the Lake County Federation of Teachers Local 504, but it's likely the federal mediator will attempt to get both sides back to the table after the holidays.
"We are still willing to meet," Pergander told Patch.
The school board has made its final offer, which was presented to the union at the Nov. 28 negotiating session and has been posted on the District 46 Website.
Both sides have made some concessions, but not enough to clinch a deal.
In its final offer, the school board agrees to extend teachers a two-year contract instead of one year.
The school board attached the following statement to its final offer:
"The Board of Education worked hard to propose a contract that would be fair and beneficial to all constituents without negatively affecting the budget or taxpayers. The Board feels that this proposal shows gratitude and appreciation to the hard work of the teachers while being mindful of the financial constraints that the district is facing."
The board also agrees to maintain the flex benefit payment of $6,292 for the 138 teachers receiving it. In its previous offer, the board wanted to cut that benefit in half, but give teachers who weren't retiring a $1,300 bonus. This proposal is now off the table.
Regarding retirement, the school board initially proposed to reduce the retirement option of receiving up to four years of 6 percent increases to three years of 5 percent increases.
The board's final offer would maintain a 6 percent increase for teachers who've already submitted their retirement notice.
However, teachers submitting their retirement by March 1, 2013, would receive four years at 5.75 percent. Teachers who submit their retirements after that date would receive 3 percent for three years.
The board holds firm on instituting a salary freeze with no step or lane changes (related to continued education).
The union initially proposed a 3 percent salary increase for both contract years, which would have cost the district more than $1 million.
In their latest offer, said Pergander, teachers agree to remain working at their current 2011-12 salary schedule for next school year.
The board would agree to give all certified staff who have not submitted a notice to retire a $1,000 stipend in year two.
Teachers would also agree to delay the step increase they were due last September to Sept. 2013, and delay the Sept. 2013 step increase to March 2014.
Pergander said the union "guestimates" this new proposal would cost the district "a little more than half" of what the 3 percent raises would have cost over two school years.
The union is aware of the district's "money crunch problem," said Pergander. "We're trying to meet their needs."
Lane changes and extra duty stipends
While the school board wants no lane changes (related to professional development), Pergander said the union wants lane change compensation made in Feb. 2013, though teachers are not seeking retroactive compensation.
The board still wants all extracurricular and supervisory stipends frozen at the current amount for the next two school years. Pergander said the union is agreeable to this.