Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract and classes could resume for 350,000 students on Monday, according to school and union officials.
The union’s House of Delegates will review details Sunday and are expected to vote then on whether to end the 5-day-old teachers strike, according to Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.
She cautioned there is no contract yet, though a City Hall source said the school district and union have reached a “framework with all points resolved.”
Lewis said delegates at a meeting Friday afternoon did not receive a summary or any details of the agreement. But she said she was “very comfortable” with the terms.
“Our delegates were not interested in blindly signing off on something they have not seen,” she said. “We think it’s a framework that will get us to an agreement.”
CTU attorney Robert Bloch said union negotiators were "hopeful that we will have a complete agreement to present to the union’s House of Delegates by Sunday. And if the delegates so vote, we will suspend the strike and students can return to school on Monday."
Bloch was asked how confident he was that delegates would be happy enough with the deal to end the strike.
“I can’t provide assurances, but I can tell you that it’s a contract that the committee expects to recommend to the membership. And if we have been listening to the membership well and have heard their concerns, then that agreement will be acceptable to our membership overall,” Bloch said.
“We are hopeful that we will have a complete agreement done by Sunday, that when the House of Delegates will review it, that they will have confidence in that agreement and that they will vote to suspend the strike so students can return to school on Monday,” he added.
School board president David Vitale was also upbeat about the strike ending as he left the talks at the Chicago Hilton and Towers this afternoon.
“I’m pleased to tell you that we have in place the framework around the major issues," Vitale said. “We have more work to do here. The heavy lifting is over. The general framework is in place.”
He declined to discuss specifics but indicated the two sides will be back Saturday with the hope of finalizing details of a contract.
“My message (to parents) is they should be prepared to have their kids in school on Monday,” Vitale said.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the "tentative framework ... an honest and principled compromise that is about who we all work for: our students."
"It preserves more time for learning in the classroom, provides more support for teachers to excel at their craft, and gives principals the latitude and responsibility to build an environment in which our children can succeed," he said.
Under a deal put on the table by CPS earlier this week, teachers would receive on average a 16 percent raise over the next four years. That figure includes both cost-of-living salary bumps and the so-called step increases for working another year in the district.
CPS estimates the cost of those raises will begin at $80 million the first year and increase by that amount in each of the contract's next three years. The union calls those projections exaggerated and says its own analysis puts the cost at $60-$100 million less.
The district and union continue to haggle over how teachers will be evaluated and a framework for recalling teachers who've been laid off because of school closings, consolidations and turnarounds.
Job security has emerged as a critical issue during these contract talks as CPS considers closing between 80 and 120 sparsely enrolled and under-performing public schools to cut costs and conserve resources. Union leaders worry about the jobs that could be lost during such a dramatic downsizing.
Tribune reporter Naomi Nix contributedCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun