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HIGHLAND, Ill. – Teachers with Highland Community Unit School District #5 have voted to authorize a strike.

The teachers' contract expired Sunday, but teams for the union and the board of education have met unsuccessfully for the last five months to negotiate. A spokesperson for the Illinois Education Association says a federal mediator has supervised the last three meetings.

ShiAnne Shiveley, local president of the Highland Education Association, says the district wants teachers to give up health care, and retirement bonuses. She says they also do not want to increase the teachers' salary schedule.

"The district's proposal does not make sense," said Shiveley. "The retirement bonus saves the district money by replacing more expensive senior teachers with less expensive new teachers. And there has been no increase in the Highland teacher salary schedule since 2010-2011."

According to the IEA, the school district has more than $8.3 million available for education fund expenditures after a 2012 ballot referendum that allowed the district to sell up to $5 million in working cash bonds.

The IEA says 97 percent of Highland teachers voted to authorize the strike.

The federal mediator has another session with the group this weekend. If an agreement is not reached, a strike date will be announced.

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