But the marathon negotiating sessions — talks Wednesday went until 3:30 a.m. Thursday and resumed at 9 a.m. Friday -- have left some feeling unsettled.
“It’s tough to know,” said Andrew Gomez, strike captain and Zion-Benton history teacher. “I was real optimistic on Wednesday night, but then I got a call in the morning that the negotiations still weren’t over.”
Anthony Ficarelli, attorney for the school district, said both sides are committed to talks but he did not expect a resolution Friday. He added it was “too premature” to say if there would be classes Monday.
“We’re still mediating. The talks could go into the weekend,” Ficarelli said.
Earlier Friday, the teachers union president said they were “making progress,” but that the two main disputes were still over how long it takes employees to reach top pay levels and the cost of health insurance,
Corinne McGue, president of the Zion Council of the Lake County Federation of Teachers, said discussions between the union and staff have been “calm and respectful,” but there were no signs that talks will wrap up anytime soon.
“Let’s put it this way, I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” said McGue, who is also a 24-year English teacher at Zion-Benton.
Teachers and support staff have been working without a contract since July.
“Everyone is working very hard and diligently to find resolutions of the issues and to make an agreement. But we have a long way to go yet,” said Ficarelli. “We’re trying to come to grips with the salary schedule. We’re looking for ways to fairly compensate the teachers, but look out for the taxpayer.”
Officials are also concerned about the rising costs of health care, he said.
“We’re trying to strike that balance,” Ficarelli said.