Teachers, City at Impasse as Strike Deadline Looms

Friday, Sep 7, 2012  |  Updated 7:08 PM CDT
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Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis held a press conference Friday evening to provide an update on negotiations with Chicago Public Schools.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis held a press conference Friday evening to provide an update on negotiations with Chicago Public Schools.

Chicago School Board president David Vitale left a negotiating session with Chicago Teacher's Union at their headquarters with a message for parents: make contingency plans.

A strike is likely. Negotiations will resume Saturday at Noon.

With just two days left before a strike deadline, the Chicago Teacher's Union and the city still have work to do.

"Today, I would say we did not make much progress at the table, we're very disappointed," said Union President Karen Lewis. "We were told they would have a plan that satisfied many of our needs. That did not happen. We're going to come back tomorrow and we're going to start this again."

The two sides are closer than they have been in the past, but still remain far apart. At one point Friday, negotiations took a positive turn. But CTU members criticized a contingency plan to keep open for half days 144 schools.

Teachers called it a $25 million babysitting program.

Vitale's emailed statement was more optimistic than his off-the-cuff quip.

"Today we had another good meeting and will meet again tomorrow with the sole goal of keeping kids in the classroom by completing these negotiations," a board of education release said.

Despite the optimism, the board is prepared for a the real possibility that children will be without teachers on Monday.

The issues are familiar ones. Teachers seek not just money, but job security, and an end to comtrovsial evaluations, that the teachers contend are unfair and imprecise. Many parents say they want the teachers to get the best deal possible, but they also want the schools to be open on Monday.

Though negotiators did make progress during Friday's discussions, it wasn't enough.

"There's enough distance between the two sides that without some real movement, we're not going to get this thing done on time," said CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey.

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