CPS Cancels Tuesday Classes as Sticking Points Stall Deal

Classes have been canceled for the 9th school day Tuesday since negotiators have yet to reach a contract deal between the teachers union and the city.

On Monday evening, Chicago Public Schools leaders said while they’ve made some progress, the sticking points remain money and teacher prep time – the city says it won’t agree to a deal that reduces student instructional time because that would roll back the academic progress the district has made.

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“We have made quite a bit of compromise at the table,” said Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade. “We also need the union to make compromises. We are a district that is still borrowing a billion dollars just to keep the lights on. And so although we want to make sure that we have a fair contract, we also want to make sure that we’re good financial stewards in this district.”

But CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates told “Chicago Tonight” that $100 million “had been found in the school budget that was formerly in the city budget.”

“That $100 million could absolutely settle our contract,” Gates said. “These are items – the payment for police in our schools, $33 million, which has traditionally been paid for by the city, was shifted to the schools; a pension payment that has traditionally been paid for by the city has been shifted to the schools. So you have nearly $100 million of cost-shift from the city to the school budget at a time when we need it, at a time when the city is now, clearly, balancing their budget on the backs of our students.

“We don’t intend to leave Malcolm X tonight until they put a deal on the table that we can agree on and move forward. Enough is enough.”

Earlier Monday, Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson expressed frustration that the union hadn’t accepted what it calls a “historic half-a-billion dollar offer” – including many of the demands CTU had requested in writing, like beefing up staffing for special education and clinicians – and investing more money to address class size.

In a video tweeted Monday, both leaders express disappointment at the impact strike is having on students.

The strike has surpassed its 2012 work stoppage in terms of missed school days.

Tentative deal with SEIU Local 73

City negotiators did reach a tentative agreement Sunday with striking members of SEIU Local 73, which represents 7,500 bus aides, security guards, custodians, special education classroom assistants – or SECAs – and others in CPS schools.

The city and the district say some of the highlights of that deal include a 16% raise over five years for all employees – plus even more substantial raises for SECAs, bus aides and custodians.

There are no changes to health insurance for those five years – and the tentative agreement also includes some improvements for working conditions for members, like carrying over up to 40 days of unused sick leave.

SEIU leaders say the bargaining team voted unanimously for this deal, but beyond that, they’re keeping mum about the details of it until members have the chance to review it and vote.

Despite having its own contract, SEIU leaders say they will remain on the picket line in solidarity with CTU members until they reach a deal. That was the deal they made when agreeing to strike together.

Meanwhile, SEIU members are voting on this tentative deal at their schools Monday and Tuesday. They need a simple majority of membership to ratify the agreement, then the Board of Education will have to ratify it as well.

Follow Brandis Friedman on Twitter @BrandisFriedman

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