Evergreen Park teachers' strike enters seventh day - FOX 32 News Chicago

Free child care for Evergreen Park kids if no deal over the weekend

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Students in Evergreen Park saw another day without school Thursday. But District 124 said they'll offer free child care at Central Jr. High if a deal isn't struck over the weekend.

Parents were informed via automated message Thursday night that if the teachers' union and the school board do not come up with a contract agreement over the weekend, the district will take care of their kids for free.

Parents will be able to find more information on the district's website by Friday.

1,800 students have been affected as nearly 150 teachers have been on the picket line fighting for better pay and better benefits since October 2nd.

PREVIOUS STORY: Evergreen Park strike continues, parents frustrated, no deal in sight

Teachers and the district negotiated for hours on Wednesday into the early morning, but were unable to reach a deal. Though they were ready to stay longer, the teachers say the board ended the talks at 2:45 a.m.

It is now the seventh day that teachers have missed school, which is creating another issue. The district doesn't want to make up the days and definitely does not want to pay teachers to make them up. The teachers, though, disagree.

Both sides will come together through a federal mediator Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

Some teachers will be moving to a half day enrichment program offered to students in the area being offered at Jacob's Well Community Church.

The District is not coordinating this program, so parents cannot sign their kids up for it. They can, however, still sent their kids to Jacob's Well for the program. 

But this move could come at a huge risk to teachers.

"Last night before negotiations broke off, we were delivered letters from the school board that any one of our striking teachers or staff members that have volunteered their services would be denied their health insurance," Union IFT Field Service Director Deneen Pajeau said.

District 124 officials did not respond to FOX Chicago's request for comment as of noon Thursday. But they did release a written statement that afternoon.

The release clarified Pajeau's comment, saying that since the enrichment program held at the church is "outside the district's scope of employment," they cannot offer direct liability coverage to teachers who participate - should anything happen to them while they are at Jacob's Well.

Earlier Thursday morning the teachers and the union updated the public with the progress of their negotiations.

"I'm sure both sides would like to see more movement and would like to see this end," said District 124 Board of Education member Kathy Roahn. "We've had good conversation and we've made progress."

"Until this is settled, one minor move doesn't help the overall situation. So, we're hopeful that we can get back in and make a commitment to reaching an entire agreement," said Dave Comerford of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

The teachers and board have different opinions on the progress of negotiations so far.

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