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Teachers’ strike to close Waukegan schools Thursday

Waukegan school officials held a news conference Thursday morning to discuss a teacher’s strike which has shut down schools in the north suburban district.

“Sorry about this,” Waukegan School Board president Anita M. Hanna said to staff inside the district’s Lincoln Center administrative building early Thursday.

The district’s attorney says that after 10 hours of negotiations on Wednesday, the union “went rogue” and wanted to talk only about money.

The district’s teachers union announced plans to move forward with a planned strike Wednesday night.

Waukegan Community Unit School District 60 Supt. Donaldo R. Batiste said that the teachers would begin the strike Thursday morning in a statement posted to the district’s website Wednesday night.

District 60 leaders and the teachers union were in negotiations throughout the day Wednesday, with both sides expressing hope that a strike could be averted before the Thursday deadline, the Lake County News-Sun reported. The parties, however, haven’t been able to agree on much since their initial meeting this school year on Sept. 18, and leaders said they remained at odds on many issues Wednesday.

MORE: Coverage of the strike and closure

Negotiations between the union and the school board are at a standstill over issues of salary, health care benefits and employment conditions, Batiste said in the statement.

“We will do our best to minimize a strike’s disruptive effects upon our students and school families, and we apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause them and our community,” Batiste said.

District spokesperson Nick Alajakis told the News-Sun Wednesday that the Waukegan Park District would offer childcare from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting Thursday if there is a strike.

Parents seeking more information can call the Waukegan Schools’ strike hotline at 224-303-1299.

Contributing: Lake County News-Sun