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No deal between teachers, CPS | Officials warn parents to prepare for strike |Talks to continue Saturday

Friday, September 07, 2012
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CPS officials and the teachers union failed to reach an agreement Friday as a September 10th strike deadline looms.

"We are going to come back tomorrow and we will start this again," Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said at a news conference Friday evening. Lewis called negotiations "very disappointing."

"Parents need to plan for Monday morning and we will start to execute our plan because logistically it takes us time to do that," said David Vitale, president, Chicago Board of Education. "It's not a statement that we're not going to get there. We are being cautious and precautionary about Monday."

Both CTU and CPS officials warned parents they should be ready for a strike on Monday.

Earlier in the day, Lewis had expressed hope that both sides would reach an agreement.

"I was a little heartened yesterday that the board president did come to the negotiations," she said.

Despite a positive shift in tone, the union said differences remain on several issues, including a new teacher evaluation system.

"We think that there are going to be a lot of problems with it because we're also concerned about the training people who will be doing the evaluation," said Lewis.

Away from the table, the union blasted the CPS contingency plan in a statement saying, "it sounds like a train wreck."

Fernwood Elementary in the Roseland neighborhood is one of the 144 school sites that will be open if there's a strike offering kids breakfast, lunch, and non-academic activities from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

"After 12:30, after these kids leave here, where are they going to go? I mean, they're probably going to be in the streets or hanging out, and that's not right," said Cassandra Wiley, CPS parent.

CPS said the plan, which requires parents to sign up online at www.cps.edu/childrenfirst, is merely a safety net and is urging parents to find their own child care. Officials say parents should use the plan as a last resort. Parents who do not have Internet access should call 311. They will need their student's ID number.

Police also have concerns.

"We're working with CPS to ensure that rival gang members are not put into the same places," said Supt. Garry McCarthy, Chicago Police Department.

"With many parents likely to just stay home with their kids, the city could take a significant economic hit," said McCarthy.

Faisal Rahman, a business professor at St. Xavier University, sees a potential long term impact if companies see the union and cps as chronically at odds.

"Companies are already lean with a much, much smaller workforce than ever before," said Prof. Rahman. "That will mean real loss in productivity for the companies."

"That makes it a little harder for the mayor and everyone to sell the city to potential employers," said Rahman.

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