Local

CPS strike contingency plan in place

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Chicago Public Schools has a contingency plan if there is a strike called Children First which will have 144 CPS Schools open to students from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day.

Parents must sign up their children on the district website beforehand or call 311.

CPS will not provide transportation.

There has been a steady flow of Chicago Public School teachers to CTU strike headquarters.

Many of the union's 25,000 members have spent the picking up their red union t-shirts, as well as picket signs.

The rush is on for parents trying to find a place for their children to learn if Chicago Public School teachers walk off the job for the first time in 25 years.

"I would have to stay home and watch them, so this would make it easier for me," said parent Sheila Sanchez.

Sunday morning, the mother of second- and third-graders was among dozens enrolling in an alternative school.

The Freedom School sponsored by Armitage Baptist Church is free to all kindergarten to 12-grade CPS students and will operate should there be a strike.

"Our goal is to give students in the neighborhood a safe haven, to provide nourishment for them, to keep active minds and a healthy environment," said school coordinator Ellen Estrada.

"I'm hoping they don't go on strike, but if they do this will my option," said parent Rolinda Robinson.

While some are just concerned, other parents like Gladys Hampton are angry with both school officials and the teachers union.

"How dare you guys stop school in session? How dare you do that to our children? What are you thinking about? Not about them," she said.

While Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was at the Mexican Independence Day Parade, will not comment about a possible teachers strike, 22nd Ward Alderman Ricardo Munoz did.

"The ambiguity of knowing whether or not the children are going to be in school (Monday) is devastating to every family. We need to settle this," Munoz said.

Negotiations are ongoing as a midnight strike deadline looms.

And as both sides hammer out the sticking points of teacher raises and evaluations as well as recalling laid-off teachers, the head of the largest charter school network in Illinois wants the parents of her students to know classes will be is session Monday.

"This is not our fight. Chicago Charter Schools will be open (Monday)," said Chicago International Charter School's Beth Purvis.

The CTU strike headquarters is set to close after some of the teachers come by to get their supplies.

Meanwhile, parents and CPS students hope the negotiations will go well and wait to see if they will have class on Monday or if the school year will be abruptly interrupted.

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