CHICAGO (CBS) — Before approval of a $5.4 billion schools budget, Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool was hoping.
“The students so excited to return to class Sept. 6 will not see their school year interrupted by a strike,” Claypool says.
But a Chicago Teachers Union bulletin posted Wednesday warns “a possible strike deadline looms,” urging teachers to consider going on strike if no contract “by October,” CBS2’s Derrick Blakley reports.
Another section talks of “preparations for a likely strike in mid-October.”
A possible strike got mixed reactions Wednesday afternoon. One teacher said if there’s no contract by October, though she doesn’t want to walk, “I’m prepared to walk off the job…financially it would be tough,” said CPS music teacher Angie Maloney.
“Although I dread having to find childcare for my daughter, I am 100 percent for the strike,” another teacher says.
Paul Bradley a parent says “I’m probably not as supportive, because it’s been going on for so long. I’m just tired of it.”
Union reps, teachers and parents all blasted the budget, saying CPS isn’t keeping promises to isolate classrooms from cuts.
“Your mandates to the principals to reduce positions and school budgets are resulting in fewer teachers, teacher assistants, and bigger class sizes,” said Maria Moreno, CTU financial secretary.
“We deserve a better city than this. We deserve more than this,” Carlos Carrillo, a laid-off CPS teacher said.
Ald. Susan Sadlowski-Garza (10th Ward) says, “This year, because of cuts, we have schools that have totally eradicated history out of the curriculum. How do you do that?”
What’s more, budget assumes a $215 million payment from Springfield that depends on agreement to reform state pensions. Wednesday, Gov. Bruce Rauner underlined, that’s money’s not guaranteed.
“Could I sit here today and say, for sure, we’re absolutely going to get that pension agreement worked out in the next few months? I’m gonna try my darndest cause I ran trying to change pensions but, who knows?”
And if that state money doesn’t come through, CPS is already warning of still more cuts.
But the biggest worry is the teachers and their contract. The budget also assumes teachers will begin paying their entire pension contribution. That’s the same deal they rejected earlier this year.
Teachers are scheduled to report to school next Tuesday. Classes for students begin the day after Labor Day.