On a day teachers picketed over being deprived of their contracted raises, theChicago Public Schools Board today approved contracts for the city’s top two school administrators paying more than previously for the positions.
The new schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard will earn $250,000 – more than that paid to Mayor Rahm Emanuel – according to the labor agreement. His deputy, Chief Education Officer Noemi Donoso will receive $195,000 for the job.
Both salary amounts exceed those earned by their predecessors, an increase that district officials say reflects the increased responsibilities assigned to each position.
But the Chicago Teachers Union immediately blasted the salary increases that come a week after the new CPS board voted to rescind the 4 percent annual raise owed to teachers and other school unions.
“Given that you are giving out raises, we hope you’ll reconsider breaking your promise to the teachers who work 50 and 60 hour weeks coming in early and staying late to ensure the best possible future for our children,” said CTU President Karen Lewis in a statement.
As the board began meeting, hundreds of teachers gathered the decision to rescind the 4 percent annual raise promised in the teachers' contract.
The picket lines began outside Board of Education headquarters, 125 S. Clark St., as Emanuel’s handpicked board met for just the second time.
The picket, organized by the Chicago Teachers Union, headed about 10 a.m. to the Chicago Board of Trade and a Bank of America branch on LaSalle Street, a route intended to call attention to the city’s special property taxing districts that union officials contend “rob Chicago’s schools.” They protesters then circled back to attend the board meeting.Carina Boyce joined the picket line with her 3-year-old daughter, Maya, in tow. The bilingual kindergarten teacher at Jordan Elementary School said this was the first time she turned out for a protest in her eight years with the district.
Boyce said came to show her concern about losing the annual raise at a time when district officials are looking to lengthen the school day for Chicago students.
"I actually think kids need a little longer day, but not without some compensation. I have my own daughter I have to get home to," Boyce said.
Teacher Daniel Schiessl has worked in the city's public schools for 15 years. He already received a pay bump when he earned a masters degree and will not be eligible for another raise tied to his years of service until he reaches the 20-year milestone, in accord with the current contract.
The Finkl Academy history and language arts teacher is among an estimated 26 percent of district educators who will receive no salary increase next year.
Teachers Union officials are calling on the district to open the budget books and negotiate spending priorities for the coming academic year.
Officials with the district and the unions are in the throes of hammering out dates to negotiate the board’s decision, allowed under a provision of the contract, to withhold the 4 percent salary increase in the teachers’ and other unions’ contracts as they confront a deficit now pegged at $712 million for the coming school year.
Three-quarters of district teachers still will receive raises owed for their years of experience and education levels, according to district estimates.
If the negotiations on the raise withdrawal fail, leaders of the teachers union may reopen the entire contract that is set to expire in June 2012. That could allow the district to hasten plans for a longer school day and extended academic year, though it also could raise the specter of a teachers strike.
Last month, Emanuel tasked a panel with studying the effectiveness of the city’s 157 tax increment financing districts that receive more than $500 million a year in property taxes that otherwise would go to the city’s school system, City Hall and elsewhere.