CHICAGO, May 28, 2019—Chicago Teachers Union leadership has learned that the board of directors at Namaste charter school in McKinley Park will consider a plan to close the school at tonight’s 5:30 p.m. meeting, in an effort to block educators at the school from gaining a union contract.
Although the meeting is subject to the Open Meetings Act, Namaste management has announced that its conversation regarding possibly closing the school will be in closed session.
“It is extremely upsetting to hear that the bosses at Namaste would rather close that school than provide classroom resources,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said. “The students there deserve better, their parents deserve better and our educators deserve better.”
“Our union will fight to protect the Namaste community from this charter operator, which is using students as pawns and threatening what is probably the most heinous attack you can impose on a school.”
Negotiations began in September at the start of the 2018-2019 school year. The Union presented an economic offer to management in October with a desire to reach a settlement by April. The Namaste board didn’t issue a counter-proposal until mid-May.
Two extended bargaining sessions were held last week, and were the first time school finances were discussed, according to Union negotiators. Namaste management acknowledged its control of healthy reserve funds that it is refusing to use. Namaste is funded by Chicago Public Schools, and this money could be dedicated to meeting educator calls for student resources and equal pay.
“When educators decided they needed more for their classrooms to provide an education for children of color in a low-income community, they decided to organize and demand it,” Sharkey said. “The operators said no—and not only did they say no, they threatened to shut the school down instead of listening to their teachers and staff, or providing for their students.”
Namaste educators recently held a National Labor Relations Board vote in response to continued efforts by the school’s board to decertify the union. The vote failed for the third time.
Should a plan to close the school materialize, the Union will take any and all means to ensure that Namaste students, parents and educators keep their school open.