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Chicago Teachers Vote To Ratify Deal With CPS

Karen Lewis Votes

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis casts her vote for authorizing a teachers’ strike. (Credit: Mike Puccinelli/CBS 2)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The Chicago Teachers Union announced late Wednesday that teachers have voted to ratify a new contract with the Chicago Public Schools.

The proposed deal with CPS, which ended the teachers’ strike after seven school days last month, was approved by 79.1 percent of CTU members, according to the union.

Teachers cast their ballots at their schools on Tuesday, and the union has been counting the ballots since then.

CTU officials said the 79.1 percent ratification vote was the highest approval rating for a contract in the union’s history.

A total of 20,765 teachers and support staff voted on the contract; 16,428 approved it, and 4,337 voted against it.

“This shows overwhelming recognition by our members that this contract represents a victory for students, communities and our profession,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “Our members are coming are coming out of this with an even greater appreciation for the continued fight for public education. We thank our parents for standing with their children’s teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians.”

The $300 million deal would be a three-year contract, with an option for a fourth year. Both sides would have to agree to the fourth year. In the first year, teachers would get a 3 percent raise. In the second and third year of the deals, they would get a 2 percent raise. If the sides agree to a fourth year, teacher raises would be 3 percent that year.

The contract also calls for the Chicago Public Schools to hire 600 more teachers in art, music and other special subjects, maintain limits on class size, promote racial diversity in hiring, and lower the focus on standardized testing.

It also preserves the longer school day and longer school year Mayor Rahm Emanuel had negotiated with the union this summer. Elementary students will have an extra hour and 15 minutes of class time each day, and high schoolers will have an extra 30 minutes each day. All students will also be in class an extra two weeks, compared to last school year.

According to the union, the contract also calls for:

• No merit pay, which had been sought by the district.
• Preserving “step increases,” which are based on teacher experience, with increased value for the three highest steps.
• Hiring an additional 512 teachers in art, music, physical education, world languages, and other “special” subjects as part of the longer school day.
• Requiring half of all CPS hires be previously laid-off teachers.
• Mandating teachers whose positions are eliminated due to school closures and “follow their students” to other schools.
• Allowing laid-off teachers 10 months of “true recall” to their old school if a new position opens.
• Reimbursing teachers up to $250 for out-of-pocket expenses on school supplies.
• An agreement by CPS to hire more nurses, social workers, and school counselors if new revenue is available, including from TIF funds.
• A new teacher evaluation system that limits to 30 percent the weight given to student improvement on standardized test scores, rather than the 40 percent sought by the district.
• Protecting tenured teachers from losing their jobs due to evaluations in the first year of the contract.
• Allowing an appeal of a “neutral” rating on teacher evaluations.
• A guarantee that all CPS students and teachers have textbooks on the first day of class.

The Chicago Board of Education must approve the deal before it becomes official.

The district says the deal it concluded with the teachers’ union will add some $75 million annually to the district’s already huge, $1 billion budget deficit. Laurence Msall of the Civic Federation said late last month that to pay for it, the city may have to close as many as 200 schools and institute another property tax hike.