"What do we want?" yelled one teacher with a bullhorn.
"A fair contract!" responded the crowd outside the administration building.
As between the teachers' union and district officials, union members came out in force to protest proposed arts cuts before Monday night's school board meeting.
District 65 Educator's Council (DEC) president Jean Luft said the group had voted earlier this summer to authorize leadership to put in motion the actions needed to strike. But that's a situation they're hoping to avoid, she said.
"We're trying very hard not to have it come to a strike," Luft told Patch.
District officials and union representatives have been discussing a new contract for teachers since March. In June, they agreed to bring in a federal mediator; meetings with began the mediator Aug. 8.
Board president Katie Bailey responded to the protestors in a prepared statement at the beginning of the meeting.
"We are willing to negotiate and have over the last five months," she said. "We remain fully committed to working with the DEC and the federal mediator to find a common ground."
Board members were expected to vote on a motion to adopt the district's tentative 2012-13 budget, which includes a five percent reduction in expenditures, later at Monday night's meeting.