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This week, we finally received a counterproposal from CPS to the reopening plan we presented the Board several weeks ago. Basically, the district has rejected most of our ideas for additional staffing and school resources. In fact, the $2 billion in American Rescue Plan funding is nowhere to be seen in the CPS document.

We fully expect CPS to try and waste this once-in-a-generation influx of funding.Today's video bargaining update

A few things we have learned so far:

  • CPS rejects our 80 percent vaccination goal, instead proposing a meaningless standard of students “having the opportunity to be vaccinated.”
  • CPS is still non committal on our request for a mask mandate and social distancing protocols.
  • The district casually expects us to deliver simultaneous instruction in the event classrooms need to quarantine and rejects our request for additional prep time for educators.
  • Unpaid leaves will only be approved for medically fragile members or members who cannot be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons. But members whose children attend the Virtual Academy can apply for an unpaid leave. Leave applications are due July 28.
  • Some good news. CPS has relented and will spend the additional $5 million on sports programming from last year in accordance with the CTU sports committee’s wishes. Our rank-and-file committee members Wendy Weingarten, Linda Peete and Lynn Gerbec did fantastic work on this across months of meetings with CPS.

While our bargaining team is comprised of CTU staff and rank-and-file-educators, Mayor Lightfoot’s team is mostly lawyers on the other side of the table. Our bargaining sessions are marked by a lot of legalese, gaslighting and few direct answers. We understand they work for a bureaucracy and must answer to the mayor, but time is running out.

Educators, students and families want to feel confident about heading back to schools, so the sooner we have clear, actionable plans for increased staffing, vaccinations and safety measures, the better for all of us.

To no one’s surprise, we are not getting enough movement from the district, which means we must do what we always do: organize our members, our families and our communities to demand what our students need.