After about nine hours of talks Saturday, negotiators for both Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union took a break and planned to resume on Sunday -- one day before a potential strike Monday.
School Board President David Vitale said after talks ended at around 9 p.m. that the district presented the union with an updated proposal covering issues including wages, a recall policy for teachers who have been laid off, and health care.
“It does cover all of the issues they have raised and we have responded,” Vitale said. “This is a proposal we think is very close.”
“We have listened and moved,” Vitale said.
The district also stressed the urgency coming to a resolution and letting parents know on Sunday what’s going on, Vitale said.
Union officials said the district handed the latest proposal, which CPS officials described as "dramatic," at 9:30 p.m. just as negotiators came down to address the media. Talks are scheduled to resume at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Earlier, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said she expected negotiations would be "intense."
The two sides have been talking at CTU headquarters at the Merchandise Mart. Vitale and the mayor's point person on education, Beth Swanson, both were at the table today.
Swanson has been representing the mayor in contract talks for about two weeks.
The teachers union also has set up a strike headquarters at a union hall at 728 S. Marshfield Avenue on the Near West Side.
There was only bad news from nearly eight hours of contract talks Friday, with Lewis looking grim while saying at a news conference: "We are very disappointed. We thought it would be infinitely better than it was."
Vitale, who had expressed optimism after entering the talks Thursday, warned parents to prepare for a strike as he left negotiations Friday.
"Parents need to plan for Monday morning, and we will start to execute our (strike contingency) plan because logistically it takes us time to do that," he said. "It's not a statement that we're not going to get there, it's just that we're being cautious and precautionary about Monday."
The sticking points to a new contract remain raises, a recall policy for laid-off teachers and a new teacher evaluation system.
It wasn't clear exactly how far the two sides were apart on salary increases. The last known CPS offer was for 2 percent increases in each year of a four-year contract. The union had been asking for significantly more, although Lewis declined to say Friday how much it had come down from its call for a 19 percent raise in the contract's first year.
The district has backed off its call for merit pay in the face of staunch union opposition but is still insisting that annual raises not be given for experience.
The union also is concerned about the district's plan to close schools — Lewis has said that 100 schools could be shut down in coming years — and is pushing hard on a recall policy for laid-off teachers.
If a deal is reached, the union said it needs to gather its delegates to call off a strike. A union official said she expects a "reasonable cutoff of negotiations on Sunday" and if a deal is reached, a delegate vote can be held within an hour.
Parents have been busy signing up children for the district's contingency plan, which will open 144 schools for half a day and 60 churches from 8:30 a.m. till 2 p.m. in the event of a strike. On Friday, schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard sent a letter to Lewis asking her to agree not to picket in front of schools that are open as part of the plan.