Charter operator receives 15% funding increase — yet lays off 1/6th of teachers for at-risk youth, proposes paltry wage increase that will widen wage gap between charter and nearly all other CPS and charter staff.
- 7:00 a.m. Wednesday, July 7: press conference with Latino Youth High School teachers, CTU officers. Via Zoom — reporters, please register via the link in your email.
CHICAGO — For the last year, teachers at alternative charter high school Latino Youth High School (LYHS) have been attempting to land an agreement with charter operator Pilsen Wellness Center on wages and benefits for the last two years of their contract. Although the current agreement is for four years, 2018-2022, Pilsen Wellness pled uncertainty over finances and enrollment, only agreeing to compensation for the first two years and demanding a financial reopener for 2020-22.
That reopening date came and went last July. A year later, Pilsen Wellness, which is notorious among even low-wage charter operators for bloated ‘administrative’ costs and lowball salaries, has proposed a ‘raise’ that barely keeps pace with inflation and would instead widen the wage gap between LYHS and CPS.
On Monday, teachers held a strike vote — and they’ll announce those results and next steps with CTU officers at a press conference at 7:00 a.m. Wednesday, July 7 via Zoom. Reporters, please register at the link in your email.
LYHS serves close to two hundred of the school district’s most at-risk, in-need students — students between 16-21 years old who’ve confronted challenges at other high schools, and disproportionately experience hardships including parenthood, trauma, and disability. These students have relied on their educators for the last year to stand by them and support them through one of the most challenging global health crises in the last century.
Yet in the midst of the pandemic, the employer chose to lay off two of LYHS’s 12 teachers, leaving those laid off with no health insurance during this crisis. They made these cuts even though CPS held all charters harmless on reduced enrolment, protecting funding as a means to make these types of layoffs unnecessary. And even with a position opening up over this summer, the employer is refusing to honor the recall language in the contract by bringing back one of the laid off teachers.
At the same time, Pilsen Wellness currently has four full-time school administrators for those ten remaining full-time teachers, a ratio that would be absurd if it weren’t tragic — with the boss bankrolling administrative bloat at the expense of student needs.
Over the past three years, CTU members have had to strike to force several “charter management organizations” like Pilsen Wellness Center or their parent charter holder, Youth Connections Charter Schools, to stop siphoning funds away from classroom needs into layers of subcontractors and bloated bureaucracies.
But other financial issues abound as well at Pilsen Wellness Center, which has also refused to offer any increase to its substandard contribution to teachers’ defined-benefit pension. Instead, the boss has claimed that the vast majority of funding available for raises has been instead budgeted to a stock market-dependent “benefit” that the boss instituted illegally and from which only a fraction of teachers have seen any benefit. The CTU wants to see CPS exercise more rigorous oversight of charter operators like Pilsen Wellness Center — to ensure that public education dollars are going to support student needs rather than bankroll costly and duplicative bureaucracies.