Chicago Teacher’s Union Says it Has Received a ‘Serious Offer’ From CPS

CTU President Karen Lewis said it appeared the two sides were "headed in a better direction"

The Chicago Teacher’s Union has announced it has received a “serious offer” from Chicago Public Schools, giving much hope that a strike has been averted. However, there is still another hurdle to cross.

The House of Delegates must weigh in, and they don't meet until Monday. If that larger bargaining team does not approve of the offcer it could send everyone back to the negotiating table.

There are also rumblings that even though CTU President Karen Lewis has said she's hopeful -- others within the union are not. It's no secret the union is not as unified as four years ago when they staged the first strike in more than 20 years.

Details on the offer weren't immediately known, but Lewis said it appeared the two sides were "headed in a better direction." 

“While the Union will not release details of the offer without Big Bargaining Team approval, the basic framework calls for economic concessions in exchange for enforceable protections of education quality and job security," Lewis said in a statement. 

Members of the union's "big bargaining team," a 40-member committee of teachers, PSRP's and clinicians, are slated to convene Monday to deliberate and vote on the offer. 

CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said the offer would prevent midyear teacher layoffs.

"This offer is a true compromise that requires sacrifices from both sides so that we can protect what is most important: the gains our students are making in their classrooms," Claypool said in the statement. "We will continue to work around the clock to reach consensus on an agreement that is the best interests of our students, educators and parents."

Claypool has made it clear the city wants to eliminate a decades-old agreement in which the district pays 7 percent of the teachers 9 percent contribution to their pension fund.

According to Catalyst, a public education watchdog -- CPS hasn't budged on that pension pick up demand. In return, the teachers will see a reduction in testing, more autonomy in grading and reduced paperwork.

Sources tell NBC5 that both House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton met privately with Lewis in the past two weeks. The proposal comes amid mounting pressure to avert a teacher strike similar to one in 2012. 

The district is currently facing a $500 million budget hole and recently announced hundreds of layoffs to its central office and administrative staff. The possibility of teacher layoffs also remains.

Last week, Republican lawmakers proposed legislation that would allow the state to take over CPS and give the financially struggling school district the opportunity to claim bankruptcy. The plan was strongly opposed by CPS, CTU and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, however.  

“If the Union is able to reach a Tentative Agreement, delegates will be apprised of details shortly,” Lewis added.

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