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Highland teachers strike for 5th school day

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HIGHLAND, Ill. (AP) _ A teacher strike in southwestern Illinois’ Highland School District continued for the fifth day Wednesday as union representatives negotiated with district officials.

The union president submitted a new contract proposal to the school board Tuesday night, after teachers rejected a previous offer Sunday, the Belleville News-Democrat reported. All seven school board members attended the negotiations Tuesday.

Many striking teachers handed out lunches on Tuesday out of concern that some students wouldn’t get healthy meals at home, the (Alton) Telegraph reported. Low-income students usually receive a free or reduced-price lunch at school. Teachers said they would distribute the lunches on school days until the strike ends.

Teachers in the 3,000-student district went on strike Thursday after nearly six months of negotiations. District officials have said the district lost around $1 million a year over the past four years because of state budget problems. Union officials contend that the district’s budget could cover the salary and benefit increases it has proposed.