Lewis: "This could have been avoided."
An important meeting could circle the calendar date for the first teachers strike in Chicago in 25 years.
Chicago Teacher's Union delegates plan to meet Thursday night after filing a 10-day strike notice the day before, and they could set a date to strike.
The notice, signed by CTU president Karen Lewis, was sent Wednesday to Chicago Board of Education president David Vitalie. The timing means teachers could walk out as soon as Sept. 10, just a week into the school year for a majority of students
"This is a difficult decision for all of us to make," said CTU president Karen Lewis, "but this is the only way to get the board's attention and show them that we are serious about getting a fair contract."
"This 10-day notice would put pressure on kids and families," said Chicago Public Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard, "which we don't need, but we've been very serious about coming to a resolution as quickly as possible for this contract."
The teachers have been working without a contract since June, and negotiations have been slow. Lewis said the two sides are far apart on issues that include salary, health benefits and job security, issues she said have not even been discussed.
Negotiations will continue as union officials narrow in on a potential strike date.
In the meantime, CPS continues to prepare, and Brizard said they will be ready if the teachers strike. The district said Thursday it plans to keep about 145 school sites open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to provide activities to children and keep them engaged in independent reading, arts, sports and computer-based programming.
CPS also said it will provide breakfast and lunch to all students at the locations and will extend between 70 and 80 Chicago Park District summer camps.
"We need to be prepared to provide our students with services they need should CTU leaders decide to strike, and our Children First plan will do that," Brizard said.