If teachers strike, Chicago Public Schools officials will rely on other unionized school employees to keep an eye on students who come to school buildings kept open around the city, according to briefings given to aldermen Wednesday that revealed additional details of the district’s strike contingency plan.
The 5,500 members of Service Employees International Union Local 73 who work in Chicago public schools as custodians, security guards, special education classroom assistants and bus aides all intend to report for work Monday if teachers strike, according to union secretary-treasurer Matt Brandon.
“We reached a contractual agreement with CPS, and our position is we will honor that agreement,” Brandon said. “We have had that conversation with (the Chicago Teachers Union), and they fully understand.”
Principals and assistant principals would also staff 144 schools around the city that would be opened for students if teachers strike. A list of schools was not released, but according to the overview given aldermen the schools will all be large and air-conditioned buildings with indoor and outdoor facilities.
Along with strong leadership, schools will also be chosen based on “safety and security -- within the neighborhood, and mixing groups of gang affiliations,” according to the overview.
Most students will be assigned to sites closest to their home. High school students will have the option of attending their regular school if it is among the designated sites.
CPS earlier said activities including “independent reading, writing, the arts, athletics and computer work” will be offered.
State law prohibits the district from engaging students in traditional classroom instruction without certified teachers. All varsity sports and practices would be canceled in the event of a strike.
The district’s approximately 20,000 high school seniors affected will have access to some support services. Seniors may continue to receive credit through online courses and dual enrollment programs. Assistance in applying for college and scholarships also will be available.
Churches that held city-sponsored day camps over the summer also will open their doors to area children in the event of a strike, according to Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th.
Parents will be able to pre-register their children for the CPS program online through cps.edu, using the student’s ID, or through the CP Call Center via 311, according to the overview. Walk-in registration also will be available at the sites.
Ald. Nicholas Sposato, 36th, said Wednesday that principals of schools that would be opened during a strike are already getting the heads-up from CPS officials to start getting ready.
Sposato said he has misgivings about a handful of school administrators and other employees trying to keep an eye on hundreds of students from different neighborhoods.
According to the schedule provided in the briefing, breakfast at the schools will be served from 8:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Students will have two 55-minute activity blocks during the day. Lunch will be served from 11:50 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., after which they will be dismissed.
Sposato said officials told aldermen students would be able to stay in the buildings later than 12:30 p.m., until parents come to get them.
“There's a plan. It's not a plan that I'm thrilled about,” Sposato said. “I'm hoping beyond hope this is going to get resolved.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun