SUDBURY, Ont. - High schools in Sudbury, Ont., and the surrounding area will be closed next week if the region's board is unable to reach a deal with teachers over the weekend.Rainbow District could be the second high school board in Ontario to see a strike, after teachers in Durham Region hit the picket lines last Monday. High school teachers in Peel Region have set a strike date of May 4.One more day of bargaining with a mediator is scheduled for Saturday, but the president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation local said he's not confident they'll get a local deal with one more day of talks."I must say my optimism is at an all-time low with regard to the way that the school board has gone through this whole process of bargaining thus far," said James Clyke. "It's been pretty lethargic."This is the first round of negotiations since the Liberal government brought in a new bargaining system, with both local and provincial talks, and monetary issues are being handled centrally.Clyke said two of the major issues locally are professional judgment and the "incursion" of the school board and the ministry into classrooms and working conditions for teachers.Monday was already scheduled to be a professional activity day in the Rainbow District. The board said parents should look for updates on its website for what will happen Tuesday, but if there is a strike, schools will be closed for 5,500 students."I remain optimistic," said board chair Doreen Dewar. "We're very committed to reaching a local negotiated settlement and we're going to cling to that hope until we find out differently."High school teachers in Durham Region went on strike April 20, leaving 24,000 students out of class.The elementary teachers have said their central talks are at an impasse.The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario has asked for a "no board report," signalling that talks with the province are at an impasse, which will put the union in a legal strike position 17 days after the report is issued.
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