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With Teachers Set To Strike In A Week, Here's What Parents Need To Know

 Kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students drew pictures of the mayor to celebrate his visit to their new classroom.
Kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students drew pictures of the mayor to celebrate his visit to their new classroom.
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

CHICAGO — With members of the Chicago Teachers Union set to walk off the job a week from Tuesday, here's what parents need to know to start making plans for their children.

The Chicago Board of Education agreed Wednesday to set aside $15 million for a contingency plan to keep some facilities open for children in the event of a strike, which could legally begin as soon as Oct. 11 if no agreement is reached.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool said Thursday the details of the district's contingency plan will be unveiled sometime this week. CPS representatives did not respond Monday to a request for comment about their plans if teachers do in fact walk off the job.

Heather Cherone shares more tips for parents awaiting a teacher's strike.

But during the seven-day strike in September 2012, CPS officials kept 145 school buildings open for half the school day, provided daily meals for students and extended some Chicago Park District summer camps.

In April, when teachers walked off the job for one day, CPS opened 250 school, park district and church sites for students. Those locations offered online learning programs, physical education, arts and crafts classes and other activities.

In addition, the CTA offered free rides.

Boys & Girls Clubs President and CEO Mimi LeClair said Monday her organization plans to keep "a number" of its locations open for extended hours "in order to help children and parents during this difficult time."

In addition, the YMCA of Metro Chicago will offer programs for children ages 5-12 at locations throughout the city if a strike takes place. For more information, email youthdevelopment@ymcachicago.org.

Since teachers at charter schools in Chicago are not members of the Chicago Teachers Union, charter schools will not be effected by the strike.

The $5.4 billion Chicago Public Schools budget, adopted in August, relies on a contract proposal rejected by the union in February that would raise teachers' pay but require them to contribute more to their pensions.

The four-year CPS contract proposal — based on a report compiled by an independent fact finder — includes an 8.75 percent increase in teachers' wages and a cap on new charter schools. It also offers "steps and lanes," automatic bumps in teacher pay that kick in with seniority and experience.

But the offer also includes the so-called "pension pickup," which would require teachers to contribute 9.4 percent of their salaries into their own pension fund.

Union President Karen Lewis has said any labor agreement that works out to a pay cut for teachers — as union officials contend the CPS contract proposal does — is unacceptable.

Negotiators are set to meet three days this week to attempt to reach a labor agreement, union officials said in a statement.

"We remain open and willing to listen to any ideas that the [union] leadership presents," CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner wrote in an email.

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