Harlem District, Unions Await Make or Break Sunday to Avoid Strike

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The deadline is fast approaching. There’s just one day left until the Harlem School District is scheduled to begin its classes, but contract talks between teachers, support staff and administrators could hold things up.

Teachers and support staff both met at Loves Park City Hall Saturday afternoon. Teachers decided to strike if a new contract is not in place by Monday morning.

Support staff, however, says they want to work Monday while continuing negotiations with the district. The main sticking point for both unions remains the length of the contract. Teachers want a three-year deal. Support staff wants a two-year deal and the district wants a one-year agreement.

"No one wants students to miss out on an opportunity. We went into education because we love to educate children. This is not about the children, this is about the equitable treatment for our staff," Harlem Teachers Union President Lynn Kearney said.

Harlem Superintendent Pat De Luca says the teachers union has given the district a new proposal. He's hopeful district and teachers’ union negotiators will meet Saturday to discuss it, and iron out an agreement.

"Negotiations are progressing when you're still exchanging proposals and we have a proposal to consider so I think the negotiations are progressing," Harlem Superintendent Pat De Luca said.

Board president Sandi Johnson is expected to call a meeting around noon Saturday to consider the teachers' proposal.