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All Schools Will Remain Open Even If Teachers Strike, CPS Says

By Heather Cherone | October 4, 2016 12:30pm | Updated on October 7, 2016 11:31am
 All classes, after-school activities and sports will be canceled if teachers go on strike Tuesday, officials said.
All classes, after-school activities and sports will be canceled if teachers go on strike Tuesday, officials said.
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CHICAGO — All Chicago Public Schools will remain open during regular school hours, even if members of the Chicago Teachers Union go on strike next week, CPS officials said Tuesday.

While school buildings will be open, all classes, after-school activities and sports will be canceled, officials said.

CPS contingency plans in the event of a strike, announced in an email to parents, are designed to ensure "that students who need a safe and welcoming place to go will have one."

Parents who can keep their children at home or make other arrangements for them should do so, CPS Chief Executive Officer Forrest Claypool said in the letter.

The Chicago Park District and the Chicago Public Library also will operate contingency sites throughout the city, and CTA will provide free transportation for all students, Claypool said.

Schools will provide breakfast and lunch to all students, who will take part in arts and crafts, online learning and physical education, officials said.

During a strike, students would be permitted to attend any school that offers their grade level, officials said.

The Chicago Board of Education agreed last week 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.

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 Park District summer camps.

In April, when teachers walked off the job for a day, CPS opened 250 school, Park District and church sites for students.

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

In addition, the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago will offer programs for children ages 5-12 at locations throughout the city if there is a strike. 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 affected by the strike.

The $5.4 billion CPS 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 to their own pension fund.

Teachers union President Karen Lewis has said any labor deal 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 try to reach a labor agreement, union officials said.

Claypool told parents he still has hope that a strike can be avoided through negotiations.

For more information, go to cps.edu/strikeplan.

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