Tentative settlement reached in Highland teacher strike

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HIGHLAND, IL (KPLR)-After seven and a half hours of talking without a dinner break, negotiators reached a tentative contract for public school teachers in Highland, IL Saturday. A vote by members of the Highland Education Association is expected Sunday afternoon.

Their two day strike was the first in the school district's history.

Highland School Supt. Michael Sutton declined to release the contract details until teachers had reviewed them and voted. However, if teachers accept the contract, classes will resume on Monday morning he said. Sutton admitted the talks were difficult and emotional after two days of watching teachers walk picket lines.

“There's been a lot of give and take and we`re happy that hopefully it comes to an end and we can get back working together,” he said.

Highland’s seven school board members were present for the renewed negotiations

Teacher union president Shianne Shively told FOX2 News earlier in the week the main concerns were pay and pension issues. On Tuesday teachers turned down a district offer of a $500 pay stipend and a one year contract saying it was not enough of a raise.

Shortfalls in Illinois State funding for the Highland District contributed to the school district`s financial difficulties.

“The district loses approximately one million dollars a year in revenue strictly from state sources. Now we have other factors that are working against us as well including local revenue due to declining equalized assessed value,” Sutton said.

Highland had been deficit spending for four years. Sutton said Illinois owes the district “upwards of four million dollars” based on the promised revenue from the school foundation formula and transportation programs.

Highland’s varsity football team was forced to forfeit its Friday night game due to the strike.

“It's very unfortunate the parents and the students were caught in the middle of this,” Sutton said.

Previous story: Highland teachers going on strike

Betsey.bruce@tvstl.com

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