Posted: Sep 14, 2012 5:15 AM by CNN Wire Staff
CHICAGO (CNN) -- Public schools will be closed Friday in Chicago but the end of the teachers strike could be near.
New hope emerged Thursday after days of sometimes contentious meetings between the Chicago Teachers Union and the city's school board.
"We will see if we can finish this up, hopefully, tomorrow," Chicago School Board President David Vitale told reporters Thursday night. "I think we made some pretty good progress."
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis told CNN affiliate WBBM "we are optimistic but we are still hammering things out. Schools will not open Friday. Talks are ongoing. We've made progress in some areas, but still we have a way to go. Teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians remain hopeful but energized."
Chicago Teachers Union spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin said union delegates with the power to stop the walkout would meet on Friday at 2 p.m. CT.
But despite the optimism, there will still be no classes Friday, the fifth day of the strike, Gadlin said.
The union, which represents nearly 30,000 teachers and support staff, called the strike on Sunday night.
The union has said the two sides had been close to a deal on pay, but far apart on teacher evaluations, benefits and other issues.
The median base salary for teachers in the Chicago public schools in 2011 was $67,974, according to the system's annual financial report.