LINCOLN PARK — Schools across the city scrambled to find substitute teachers after a planned break had to be canceled following a teachers' strike.
Approximately 150 schools that follow a year-round schedule with intermittent attendance breaks spread throughout the year found themselves in the lurch after they had to rearrange the week off that had been originally scheduled to last from Oct. 15 - 19.
But in the wake of the strike, CPS decided to make up missed days by holding class this week — forcing schools to find substitutes and, when subs weren't an option, to combine classrooms as teachers who pre-paid for vacations were allowed to keep their itineraries.
Thomas Drummond Elementary School, a magnet school in Bucktown which is on the Track E schedule, expected to have about 60 percent of its teachers absent, Heurtefeu said.
Drummond Montessori principal Erin Roche declined to comment about the number of teachers on vacation.
After classes ended Thursday, parents of students at both Drummond and Prescott Elementary School in Lincoln Park, which is also a Track E school, said many of their students' classmates were out of town this week, and other families canceled planned vacations.
"My son missed three days of school. Another classmate was planning to go to Disney, but they are now having a two-week staycation," said Stacey Pearl, whose 4-year-old attends Drummond. "If I had a son who was in an older grade level, I would be enraged."
Mia Delaney, a parent of a Prescott fifth-grader, said her son's class was taught by a substitute for half of the week.
"I was going to take vacation this week, but I changed it because I wanted him in school," she said.
Delaney said she spent about $100 to $150 to change each plane ticket she had purchased for her family to fly to Belize this week, but she was able to transfer her time share to a later date without charge.
The Chicago Teacher's Union posted a list of advice for its members following the Sept. 28 announcement of the new schedule. The union suggested teachers who had
scheduled a vacation for this week to "try to work something out with your principal."
The Union said the instructions given by the Chicago Board of Education to principals was to identify the number of teachers in pre-paid vacations plans, meet with staff and seek input from them to create a plan to either accommodate staff vacation plans or to "prioritize those that can be accommodated."
"The Board has indicated that $50.00 is not enough of a financial burden to warrant granting vacation time; however, if you are liable to lose hundreds of dollars from cancelling a vacation, the Board has informed principals to grant the vacation time," the post on the union's website reads.
A CPS statement acknowledged the conflict and said school leaders are working with teachers on "creative solutions to ensure coverage" at their schools.
"As a working parent, it was thorn so suddenly," said Karrie Fischer, the mother of a 5-year-old Drummond student. "My daughter said that a lot of kids were out this week."