10/02/2012 10:46 am ET Updated Oct 02, 2012

Evergreen Park Teachers Strike: Union Hits The Picket Line After Contract Talks Fail

Teachers in suburban Chicago moved to strike after last-minute negotiations yielded no agreement late Monday, leaving about 1,800 junior high and grade school students out of the classroom Tuesday.

The Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers and the Evergreen Park School District 124 board began their final round of contract talks around 5 p.m. Monday, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. By 10:35 p.m., the union announced that no deal had been reached and a walkout would proceed.

A union official told NBC Chicago that little came of the Monday negotiations and that health insurance coverage remains a major sticking point between the two parties. There is also a dispute over how to use a $16.2 million reserve fund, and whether it will be used to help pay for any new agreement. Negotiations between the two sides began in April.

Teachers say the board has been harsh with the union, allegedly threatening that the district would not make up the instructional days missed during the walkout, ABC Chicago reports. Kathy Rohan, the board's president, denied that claim.

Rohan said in a statement Monday that the board "is disappointed to share with our community members that the union has chosen to discontinue negotiations and initiate a strike."

The district has compiled a webpage with resources for parents attempting to find alternative educational activities for their children during the strike, including a list of area libraries and community centers offering activities.

The walkout comes on the heels of the Chicago teachers strike, which was suspended Sept. 18 following a week-and-a-half-long protest that kept the city’s 350,000 public students out of school in the country’s third-largest district. Issues at the forefront of the strike emphasized teacher evaluations and a principal’s role in selecting teachers.

The Chicago Teachers Union on Tuesday, incidentally, were voting whether to formally ratify the tentative deal that previously called off the strike.

The CPS strike coincided with a strike by neighboring Lake Forest educators, who were largely fighting for benefits and an agreeable pay structure. That strike — the first in the district’s history — also ended the same Wednesday after 150 teachers picketed outside Lake Forest High School for seven days, the Daily Herald reports.

Strikes also loom in suburban Highland Park and Crystal Lake, where teachers are currently without contracts, the Chicago Tribune reports.