Teacher strike that kept Illinois students out of class for weeks nears end

East St. Louis teachers walk the picket line. (Steve Nagy/Belleville News-Democrat, via AP)

East St. Louis teachers walk the picket line. (Steve Nagy/Belleville News-Democrat, via AP)

A tentative deal has been reached between a southwestern Illinois school district and the union representing hundreds of teachers who have been on strike for a month, the district superintendent said Friday.

More than 6,000 East St. Louis students have been out of school since Oct. 1, when about 400 teachers went on strike to protest proposed salary increases.

"The union and the district's governing authorities will consider the tentative agreement soon, and we remain hopeful that it will be approved so our students can return to school," East St. Louis superintendent Arthur R. Culver said in a statement released early Friday on behalf of negotiators for East St. Louis School District 189 and East St. Louis Federation of Teachers Local 1220.

Details of the tentative agreement weren't released. Union officials didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The district, which has been under state control since 2011 because of its poor performance, has said it needs to save $10 million over the next 10 years. Under the deal teachers rejected before they went on strike, teachers would have received a one-time payment of $2,000 and modest raises, but the amount of time it would take to reach top salary scale would have nearly doubled, to 21 years.

During the monthlong strike, nearly 50 students have decided to move or transfer to other districts, according to school district officials in East St. Louis, a poor black community of about 27,000 residents across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.

The East St. Louis High Flyers' football team -- a seven-time state champion and one of the city's few sources of community pride -- had to forfeit its final four games because of the strike, ending its 15-year streak of state playoff appearances.