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Compromise on School Days

CTU Agrees to More Hours as CPS Will Add More Teachers

The Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Public School Board reached an agreement Tuesday that perhaps may prevent a strike in September.

The CTU bargaining committee accepted an interim agreement with CPS over the length of teacher work days.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel got his longer school day Ñ seven hours for elementary schools and 71/2 hours for high schools. {{more}}

However, Chicago Public Schools have agreed to hire more teachers for the extra class time. The CTU declared victory on that point because they have been steadfast in their refusal to work more hours if they are not compensated for a 20 percent longer day.

CPS will staff the longer student day by hiring nearly 500 new teaching positions. Tenured teachers displaced in 2010, 2011 and 2012 will constitute the pool from which principals must hire the new teachers.

ÒThis is movement in the right direction, but this does not settle the outstanding and mandatory issues in the contract,” said CTU president Karen Lewis. ÒIt is too bad this solutionâ which was actually presented months ago, was rejected out of hand.

ÒIt has taken a march of nearly 10,000 educators, a strike authorization vote and a fact-finder’s report to get CPS to move on this issue.

ÒThis is yet another example of the CTU’s determination and dedication to fighting for solutions that will strengthen our schools.”

The hiring of additional teachers will cost the school district about $40 million to $50 million per year, according to David Vitale, school board president. Details on how that will be done was not available at press time.

Emanuel did not address the issue of where the money would come from for additional teachers.

ÒYou can’t afford not to do it,” said Emanuel. ÒYou cannot relegate kids to the shortest school day and shortest year. This is the only way we are going to have chance at the future.”

ÒCPS thus reverses its publicly announced policy that the CTU has consistently criticized as bad for both students and teachers,” said Lewis. ÒIt has finally agreed to recall rights for teachers. This is a step in the right direction.”

The new schedules will be implemented with the start of the Track E school year, so that no disruption will occur to students or teachers as a result of ongoing contract negotiations.

It is expected that the new hiring will include many recently-neglected areas of instruction, including art, language, library science and physical education.

In regards to elementary schools, according to the agreement, teacher work days will be 420 minutes (seven hours), which will include a 45-minute duty-free lunch during the day, which is the same length of day for schools that currently have an open campus.

Instructional minutes will be capped at 296 per day, which is no more than was allowed under the expired contract.

Average daily preparation time will be increased from 62 minutes to 64 minutes. Student days will be 420 minutes.

Since the student day will be longer, CPS has also agreed to hire about 750 new teachers to cover the extra periods, including 477.5 new positions that will be filled under the Interim Agreement.

CPS has agreed that any tenured teacher displaced in 2010 or after may apply for an open position, and as long as at least three qualified applicants apply for a position, the principal must hire a displaced teacher and may not hire off the street.

Similar to the current process under Appendix H, the principal may elect not to retain the teacher after the semester is completed, but if so, the principal must hire the replacement out of the same pool of displaced teachers. Any teacher retained beyond the semester becomes a permanent appointment.

For the high schools, the agreement states high school teacher work days will be increased 14 minutes, from 421 minutes to 435, but instructional minutes will be increased by no more than seven minutes, from 244 to a maximum of 251.

Average daily preparation time will be increased up to 10 minutes, to a maximum of 102 minutes, depending on class length.

CPS has agreed that no teacher will be required to teach a sixth class, as many teachers would have been compelled to do under the original CPS plan, unless that teacher receives additional compensation as required under the expired contract. Student days will be 435 minutes on average per week.

Though this Interim Agreement is significant, it does not settle many important issues that remain the subject of ongoing negotiations and discussions.

For example, the Agreement does not settle the length of the school year, and it does not settle teacher compensation.

The Chicago Teachers Union and the Board of Education remain far apart on compensation issues, and this agreement does not change the timeline for CTU to exercise its full rights in contract negotiations.

ÒThis Interim Agreement would not have been possible had we not shown our discipline and determination to be treated with respect,” said Lewis. ÒWe are making real progress but we must keep up the pressure for a fair contract.”

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