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No classes as Zion-Benton High School teachers strike

Members Zion-BentFederatiTeachers Scott Martensen (left) Antioch Kelly Regnier president Corine McGue Lake VillMichelle Standridge Lindenhurst before beginning contract negotiations with

Members of the Zion-Benton Federation of Teachers Scott Martensen (left) of Antioch, Kelly Regnier, president Corine McGue of Lake Villa and Michelle Standridge of Lindenhurst before the beginning of contract negotiations with the school board. | Thomas Delany Jr.~ Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 7, 2012 8:17AM



Classes were canceled Thursday for thousands of students after teachers at Zion-Benton Township High School went on strike.

The strike began after a mediation session broke off at 3:30 a.m. Thursday.

The Zion-Benton Federation of Teachers represents nearly 300 employees in the 2,800-student district in northern Lake County.

Illinois Federation of Teachers field service director Michelle Standridge said sticking points in the negotiations include pay and health insurance.

School officials want to restructure the union salary schedule so it would take teachers nearly twice as long to reach top of the pay scale. They’re also proposing that union members pick up the costs of any health insurance increases.

“We think it’s unfortunate,” school district attorney Anthony Ficarelli said of the strike. “We think it’s unnecessary at this point.”

School officials have said the district is in a bad financial situation and operating under a state-ordered deficit-reduction plan.

The union and district have been negotiating since April. Teachers and other staffers have been working without a contract since July. The union voted in November to authorize a strike if there was no deal by Jan. 1.



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