Contract talks between Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union are over for the day and set to resume at noon Saturday.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis appeared grim as she said negotiations were unproductive today.
She said union negotiators came in hopeful.
“They told us we’d get proposals that answer our biggest concerns, and we did not,” Lewis said, describing talks in the remaining days before Monday's strike deadline as being “intense.”
School Board President David Vitale, exiting negotiations held at CTU headquarters today, indicated there was some progress but warned parents to be ready Monday morning with backup plans for their kids, including CPS’ signing children up for the district’s contingency plan.
Before Friday's talks began about 10 a.m., the CTU said that having Board President David Vitale at the table Thursday was encouraging but that Chicago Public Schools and the union still remain "far apart" on critical issues.
Thursday was Vitale's first day at the table. The district typically brings in high-ranking officials close to the end of contract negotiations to seal a deal.
"While it was encouraging to see Board President David Vitale at the table yesterday, both sides remain far apart on core issues such as job security, compensation and how to give our students a better day," said CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin in a release. "We recognize the tight budget constraints and have always been willing to work with the District to see how we can best utilize the budget and compensate our members and ensure our schools are well-resourced."
Meanwhile, CPS chief Jean-Claude Brizard sent CTU president Karen Lewis a letter today, asking if teachers can avoid picketing the 144 school sites the district will open for half a day in the event of a walkout Monday.
"Since students will stand to lose the most from a strike, I have deep concerns about the impact of forcing kids to walk through a picket line with their parents," Brizard said. "Our students are at an impressionable age when they are merely coming for a meal, shelter and non-instructional activities while we resolve our differences at the negotiating table."
Talks are expected to continue through the weekend. If an agreement is reached, union officials said a special session must be held first of union delegates in order to cancel a strike.
The CTU also kept up its war of words against the district, calling the contingency plan for opening 144 schools to students "a train wreck" that is "the equivalent of opening a fire station without firefighters and giving a bunch of lawyers, accountants and clerical workers a few fire hoses and rubber boots."
Union delegates have been attending strike training sessions and the union says it's preparing for a walkout on Monday.
Also today, a coalition of parents, faith leaders and students urged the union to call off strike plans.
Meanwhile, parents can now sign up for the district's contingency plan on CPS' website or by phone. The district is opening 144 schools for half a day. Under CPS' plan, 60 churches will also have programs available until 2 p.m. on school days.
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