CHICAGO, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Contract talks Saturday had failed to produce a breakthrough by afternoon and left Chicago teachers union negotiators saying they were still "disappointed."
"We were very disappointed after being there all day yesterday. When we left we were very disappointed and as of today we're still disappointed," the Chicago Sun-Times quoted teachers union bargaining committee member Gloria Higgins as saying.
Chicago's teachers plan to strike for the first time in 25 years Monday unless weekend negotiations produce a new contract, union officials said. Saturday's session followed 8 fruitless hours of negotiations Friday, the Chicago Tribune reported.
"Parents need to prepare for Monday," School Board President David Vitale had said at the end of Friday's session.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis also said she was "very disappointed" in the lack of progress.
The school district has set up "Children First" sites at 144 schools where students can get as much as 4 hours a day of supervision, including meals and activities. Jean Brizard, the schools' chief executive officer, asked the union not to picket at those schools.
Lewis responded by calling the plan a "train wreck" and said she would not send her own children to the sites. Instead, she suggested the district shut them down.
CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said the offer the board made Friday was disappointing because it failed to bridge the gap between the two sides. "... Frankly," he said, "there was not enough pieces of the puzzle to make a picture. It's not sufficient."
Vitale had said late Friday the board's negotiators "have on the table things that are positive, that we believe are positive from their standpoint."
"Whether they are adequate from their standpoint may be something we have to work on," he said.
"It's unpredictable but I think it's close enough that it could breakthrough at any point."
Sharkey held out hope Saturday.
"As long as there's time, there's always a possibility to resolve this without a strike," he said.
Chicago is the nation's third-largest school district, with 404,151 students and 21,320 teachers.
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