School Board Votes To Cancel Teachers’ Raise

UPDATED 06/15/11 7:09 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago School Board has voted to cancel a promised 4 percent raise for teachers next year, on the grounds that there is not enough money in the budget.

As CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, the decision came in a special meeting of the board Wednesday.

The pay raise for next year is mandated by the current contract under which the teachers are working.

But CPS is facing a $712 million budget shortfall, and voted that it cannot afford to keep the pay raises. The 4 percent raises for the teachers account for nearly $100 million of that shortfall.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports

In 2007, under Mayor Richard M. Daley and then-CPS chief executive officer Arne Duncan, teachers signed a contract that granted them the raises.

But now, under a new leadership – Mayor Rahm Emanuel and schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, the mission is all about slashing costs and getting more done in the classroom.

“I have the utmost respect and admiration for teachers and all that they do for our children,” Brizard said in a statement. “But today’s board action was taken in response to the massive financial crisis facing our system.”

“I commend the Board for their courage in facing the hard-truth of a $712 million deficit,” Emanuel said in a statement. “I appreciate their vigilance in minimizing cuts to our children’s classrooms and their commitment to ensuring the public schools are accountable to Chicago’s taxpayers.”

Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis said the mission should not mean paying teachers less than they are worth.

“The city did not get into this financial mess by overpaying teachers and paraprofessionals, and engineers and lunchroom ladies,” Lewis said. “Please, I want you to really think seriously when you make this decision today.”

Lewis was speaking in front of the seven School Board members, including new Board president David Vitale, and Brizard. She fought unsuccessfully to persuade the board to keep the teachers’ contract as is.

“It would make no sense for this brand new board to shortchange the children who need a quality teacher in every classroom by voting down teachers’ raises,” Lewis said, “and in terms of salary, CPS ranks 71st in salary for high school teachers, and 38th in salary for elementary teachers in this state.”

Teachers have gotten contractual 4 percent pay hikes the past four years. Administrators and other non-union employees haven’t seen raises in two years, and were forced to take as many as 15 unpaid furlough days this year.

And, most teachers making an average of $69,000 a year would still be getting so-called step or seniority raises of $2,100 to $2,800 dollars a year, even if the raise specified in the contract was canceled.

The new cutbacks come at a time when Emanuel and Brizard want to add at least an hour to the school day.

Parents stood up for teachers too. Chicago resident and CPS father Ronald Jackson had some tough words for Brizard.

“Mr. Brizard, come to the school that my daughter goes to, without your suit and tie. Just come up there unannounced, and you will see what these teachers go through, so I say before you decide to say that we don’t have the money, the money is in that budget,” he said.

A CPS finance official later told the board that regardless of the pay raise vote, 74 percent of CPS teachers are expected to get step increases of 3 to 5 percent in their salaries in this upcoming school year.

With the salary hikes voted down, fuel has been added to the fire in contract negotiations with the teachers’ union, especially as teachers will soon be required to put in more hours. A bill that was just signed by Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday calls for the extension of the school day and the school year.

  • Jim

    The AVERAGE CPS teacher makes $69k/year for 9 months of work which equates to a $92k/year job! Good thing that our kids are coming out of the school system ready for MIT or Harvard!

    • historylover81

      ACTUALLY… teachers salary is spread out over 12 months if they choose it to be… which means they are really only make $69K…. not the equivalent of $92K.

      Also, teachers, for the most part, work hard to prepare the kids but they are not the only ones who need to help. Parents need to step up and take responsibility AND the government needs to realize that we will never catch up with other nations if we continue to CUT funding for schools!

    • Jacob Michael Rivera

      She just wants some more food thats all!

    • Sarah

      I’m not sure you understand how to calculate a salary. If a teaching job was 12 months long teachers would make that amount but since it is not…they are still just making the $69k. Perhaps if you were active in the education process more of the students would be Ivy League ready. It takes many influential adults in a child’s life to help them succeed. And with parents like you who bash teachers, you worry more about their salary than what you’re kids are doing.

    • Cindy, Julie, Heather

      What the heck do you do for a living, Jim? Until you are in a classroom teaching kids day after day you have no room to speak. A teacher’s day is not a 9 to 5 job. We are teachers and we put in many more hours. We work nights,weekends and holidays just to keep our heads above water. You think that teachers make a lot of money, but you do not realize all the money spent by us during the school year. Many of us go back to school during the summer to keep up with the ever changing curriculum, which also comes out of our own pockets. We are tired of people commenting on how we only work 9 months of a year, when in reality the hours spent during those 9 months equal out to more then 40 hours a week for a full 12. Next time, before you make a comment do your research.

      • Jacob Michael Rivera

        So find a new job if you dont like your current one!!!!!!!!

      • billyd

        Girls, quit your whining. If it’s that difficult, and you are so overworked and underpaid, you can quit and get a job in the private sector.

      • Jeff

        If you are so busy as a treacher, how do you find time to post a message here?

      • Improvise

        Ladies, ladies. If money is your main issue, instead of sleeping with your students for free, you can charge them instead.

      • john777

        My cousin was a teacher. He was off the clock and at the gym by 12:30 PM every day. He is now retired and lives in a house valued at 750,000
        I dated a girl who mother bragged that being a teacher was the best paying part time job a person could find
        My friend’s brother is off the clock at 3:15 and he NEVER does work at home
        An ex coworker left accounting to become a math teacher. He says the benefits he gets are amazing and the public does not know about many of the perks they get.

      • ANGEL

        OMG, I dont know any public school teachers that make that type of money!! what State or City do they work in!!! And a lot of people on here are quick to say find another job or quit and go to the private sector!! if that happens ,then what will happen to all the public school kids ?? It sounds like a lot of people dont care about those kids since they probably dont have any kids or are well off enough to send their kids to private school.. So gimme a break, we need to take good care of our public schoold teachers because they are a big part of our childrens lives!!!

  • Billyd

    Karen Lewis, aka Jabba the Hutt, is all about “the children.”. Yeah, because she wants to EAT them!

  • Joe

    It’s all about the UNION PARASITES! They ONLY think about themselves and NOT WHERE THE MONEY COMES FROM! My pay has been cut by 40%, but I am glad to be working. I am making less than the average teacher. I have lost my health insurance and pension cotributions, but the teachers UNION would DEMAND that I pay MORE TAXES so they can float along.

  • KL

    Karen Lewis looks like a giant M&M.

  • nauseated

    Unemployment just went up to 9.1% and these people want 4% raise? Rahm can take care of this easily. Lay off 25% of them, use on-line learning and see if they still demand a raise. With 4 people for every open job acording to a CBS story, they should be glad they have a high paying job with a lavish pension they can redeem at 52 years of age.

    • Fred

      Yea if there’s any money left for our pensions by the time we retire!

  • HiALL

    It was the idiot before Karen Lewis that wanted that raise. Everytime something didn’t go her way, she would threaten to strike and sue the city.

    Instead of bashing the teachers, go and voluteer at the schools. Also, teach your kids manners at home instead of making the teachers do it. Too many of us (whites, blacks, and hispanics) are making the teachers raise their kids and teach them right and wrong rather than doing it ourselves.

    Not all teachers are getting paid high salaries. It depends on the school district that you are in. Private school teachers make less than public school teachers do. In Indiana, teacher make less than they do in Illinois.

    BTW, I am not a teacher, but I work in post-secondary education.

  • TJefferson

    Teachers, how much do you pay every 2 wks for health care? We’ll, most of us pay much more than that. If you’re going to school in the summer, you’re doing it so you can try to be paid more $. Students with teachers who have a master’s, do not fare better than those with a BA. At 2:30, most teachers beat the student to the door to leave. Why is it that catholic teachers make less $, spend more time in the classroom and are not hamstrung by union regulations?

    • C

      Maybe because catholic schools don’t require teachers to be certified! No certification= no job @ CPS

  • Paul K

    What would happen if every single school teacher at every grade level in the United States went out on strike the first day of school for 30 days? Those making the 69K figure either have many years in a school system or are the administrators and school boards. This is just like saying every single federal employee makes a 6 digit salary when it’s your politicians you elected who are making the 6 digit salary and are doing nothing except collecting from Big Oil and the Mega Banks.

  • Sue

    i find it hard to believe that Illinois is paying for Rod B’s trial, but cancels the raises of the people who teach, counsel, and support their children.

    • Billyd

      Ah, there it is. The “it’s all about the kids” argument. Problem is, people have gotten wise to that one. We now know It’s all about the UNION, which could care less about our kids.

      • FAN

        Please, look in to administrative compensation.Oh how hard it must be to find cut to save ones own. There are leaches(or leeches) at all levels! But the trend ? Lets attack the “WORKERS”.But remember, then your “d.a.” will have to do the grunt work! WAKE UP! “SHEEP”!!!!!

  • shamus

    I find it hilarious that the very unions that elected this jackhole Emmanuel are now the first to see first hand what the DIM-0 party is all about.

  • David

    If 74% are getting 3% to 5% already they should not get the 4% raise, but the teachers that do not get the step raise should recieve the 4% raise. Then the school should also give the non union pesonell a raise. Then the school board should renegotiate the contract and force the teachers to pay more for thier medical and pension, basically take the state benifits and force them to got to public sector benifits, but all state employees should have to do this.

  • Teachers Union President: Strike Is Possible « CBS Chicago

    […] On Wednesday, the Chicago School Board voted to cancel a promised 4 percent raise for teachers, on t… […]

  • Sister Morpheme

    I understand how hard it is to be a teacher right now. It’s an unfriendly environment, and suddenly we’re responsible for society’s social (and now fiscal) woes. However, forgive me if I do not sympathize with my brethren over the loss of a whopping four percent pay raise. I teach in southern New Mexico, where many of our kids answer to cartels. I make $42K and we’ve been in a wage freeze for three years. To sidestep legalities, the district pays us an extra dollar–that’s $1.00– a year to fulfill our step increase. Yet, we are expected to soldier on, despite increased class size and full inclusion. After ten years of teaching, I think it’s time to leave the profession. I can’t take another year of nurturing these kids as if they are my own, only to see them taken by the narcos or cultural forces (such as teen pregnancy) I cannot control. I can’t take another year of being lambasted in the local paper by illiterates with some unfounded grudge against educators or the educated. I can’t take another year of trying to justify my so-called “three months of vacation” — a misnomer!– to people who will never understand that I work harder in my nine-and-a half months than 95% of those year-round people with larger salaries. Goodbye, teaching. I’ll miss the kids, but I won’t miss the heartaches.

    • Sister teacher from detroit


  • Elspeth

    The failure to pay the 4% raise sure soundls like a violation of the contracts clause (state and federal constitutions) to me. Sounds like the District is in for some hefty litigation they cannot win. So they will pay 100M more in salary AND pay damages and legal fees for their short sightedness. If they want to alter the terms of the contract they have to open the contract back up and NEGOTIATE. Otherwise the contract is a sham.

    The union will sue and the union will win.

    • billyd

      And you don’t know what you are talking about, Lesbeth. The contract explicitly stipulates that the raise can be revoked if the funds are not there to pay for it. Facts matter.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live