CTU staff provided these comprehensive answers to important questions raised by delegates during the February 8, 2023 House of Delegates meeting.

Delegates:Please be reminded that you can reach out to your CTU Field Representative or Organizer for further assistance.

Guest Teachers 

Guest teachers are expected to make plans and grade by some administrators. What exactly are the roles and responsibilities of our guest teachers?

Guest teachers are responsible for following the existing lesson plans provided by the teacher of record and should follow the absent teacher’s schedule. They are entitled to a duty-free lunch. Despite the Board’s position that Guest Teachers are ineligible for preparation periods, the Union encourages Guest Teachers, with the support of CTU staff and school-level PPCs, to advocate for preparation time. According to Section 4-3 of the Board Rules, day-to-day guest teachers may not be assigned to fill the same position on a day-to-day basis for more than twenty (20) consecutive student attendance days. Cadre guest teachers may only be assigned to fill the same position for up to twenty (20) consecutive student attendance days as well. Temporarily Assigned Teachers (TAT) should be utilized by administrators to fill positions over twenty (20) consecutive student attendance days.

Update on 12-Week Parental Leave

Any update on the 12-week parental leave?

Not yet. It appears we will have to continue to advocate in order to win what was already promised. We encourage all members to sign our petition asking the mayor to rescind the order to halt the parental leave expansion for Chicago Public Schools employees. It is important to note that only the mayor could have approved this sudden reversal of CPS’ position. On November 15, CPS officials informed the CTU that they would ask the Board of Education vote to approve a parental leave policy that mimics the policy available to other city employees, starting on January 1, 2023. In December, CPS worked with the CTU to review key provisions and created an FAQ. Shortly thereafter the Department of Labor Relations reversed CPS’ position and stated that CPS will be “reviewing” a “possible” policy change and that no decisions or recommendations would be currently forthcoming. The mayor approved providing expanded leave to other male-dominated city unions. We urge all delegates to share the above-linked petition with their members to apply pressure on Mayor Lightfoot.

Missed Preps

How should members at my school keep track of missed preps?

In our contract with CPS, Article 27-5 covers makeup of missed preparation periods. It says that teachers shall not be requested to take the class of an absent teacher during their self-directed prep period. In addition, the contract mandates that the “principal shall schedule a make-up duty-free prep period for teachers by the end of the next academic quarter following, or by the last day of attendance that school year, whichever occurs first.” This means that in the third and fourth quarters of the school year, a missed prep must be made up by the end of the year. In the first quarter, it must be made up by the end of Q2, and in the second quarter, by the end of Q3. It’s important that you keep a detailed record of any missed preparation periods. To that end, the CTU provides a missed prep record keeping form on our standard forms page. You can use this form or any method that works for you. If you wind up needing to file a grievance because admin is not honoring the timeline to makeup preps, these records will be essential for documenting the contract violation.

Are missed preps paid at our hourly rate?

Article 27-5 provides a remedy if the principal does not make up your preparation period within the given time frame: “The Board shall pay the teacher for the lost preparation period at his/her regular hourly rate.” If your principal tries to pay you at a different rate, make sure to reach out to your Field Representative immediately.

Roles and Responsibilities of Interpreters/Translators

Who can be an interpreter or translator? It is our understanding that we can no longer play the role of an interpreter and that each school has a staff member trained for this.

In our 2019 contract, we won language stating that members who regularly interpret in IEP meetings are eligible for a $500 stipend per semester. This was the process until a certification was put in place. At the beginning of the 22-23 school year CPS finally released its training on the Safe Schools Platform, the training is about 6 hours and has a verbal portion currently only available in Spanish. We know members provide interpretation in many other languages, it is unfair to deny members a stipend and families interpretation because the district does not have the verbal portion available in other languages. We recommend asking your PPC to push for principal-directed time to complete the training if you are in need of interpreters in your building. However, if you are providing interpreter services, you should log the hours and request to be compensated. You should also report any delay or denial of IEP interpretation services to the ISBE monitor at www.isbe.net/monitor. Additionally, please be aware that more than one person can be certified to interpret in your building. If you take the training, you are eligible. At the moment, the interpreter stipend is available only for CTU members. If you have questions or need assistance, you can reach out to CTU Organizer LindaPerales@ctulocal1.org.

Scheduling and Flex Day Voting

When will we get information on voting for next year’s schedules and flex days?

Each year schools are asked to hold votes by early June on the following topics: selection of the daily schedule, the use of teachers’ paid flex professional development days, and, in elementary schools, whether the school will select an alternative option via a waiver vote for the two fifteen-minute preps per week. Schools determine which daily and flexible PD schedule works best for them and conduct a vote. We expect CPS to release the guidance before the end of March 2023. The CTU will hold training sessions for scheduling and flex day voting in late May.

Newcomer Student Populations

Is there a design for what CPS assistance with the newcomer population looks like? Our junior high is being especially overwhelmed and causing disruption with our programming. So far we have not heard of support beyond that.

Currently, we are unaware of any directives from CPS with regards to additional support for our newcomer population. The CTU Bilingual Committee has put together a Newcomer Packet that includes information for medical resources, legal assistance, housing/shelter/warming resources, drivers license information, and several other documents that can help families navigate Chicago and help guide them to resources that can assist in meeting their immediate and basic needs. We do recommend that delegates raise this in your school’s Professional Problems Committee (PPC) and ask your principal to reach out to the Office of Language Cultural Education (OLCE)  to push for more resources, including Bilingual teacher and Bilingual TA positions, funding for materials and other supports. In the newcomer packet you will also find which departments to reach out to for food and health benefits families might qualify for. For the school community, members can utilize our established resources for class sizes and students in temporary living situations.

Public Health Emergency Days

Will we still get COVID PHE days when the federal public health emergency ends this spring? I was told by a suburban teacher that the law Pritzker signed about this is “no longer in effect.” Is this correct? What will happen when federal PHE ends in regards to sick days with COVID?

The law is scheduled to sunset on May 11th, 2023 along with the Federal Public Health Emergency. As it stands now, unless CPS decides to fund them, PHE days will end. Members would then be directed to utilize their sick days for COVID positivity moving forward. However, the CTU’s Political and Legislative staff are working with our colleagues at the Illinois Federation of Teachers on an advocacy strategy and through the political implications and next steps assuming the sunsetting of the Federal and Illinois Public Health Emergencies occurs as predicted. The CTU maintains that the COVID PHE days need to remain in effect as people are still getting sick and we will continue to advocate with CPS and at the state level.