We have two exciting updates to share that should provide relief connected to the substitute teacher shortage CPS has been experiencing for the last several years.

Amendment to Pension Code Lifts Cap on Number of Days Retirees Can Work in High Needs Vacancies

Last year, the Illinois Pension Code was amended to allow retired teachers to return to full-time employment at CPS in subject matters where CPS is experiencing an acute teacher shortage, without any penalty on their pension benefits. This special provision is currently in effect through June 30, 2024.

For those positions, that means there is no cap on the number of days a retiree can work while still receiving their pension. But, under the law, CPS has to continue to search for an appointed, active-duty teacher, and the full-time retiree teacher will be displaced from such position once such a candidate is found. However, if an active duty teacher is found for the position, CPS will assist the Full-Time Retiree Teacher in being placed in another subject matter shortage area position.

After the law was passed, the CTU negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with CPS about implementing the new retiree substitute provision.  Under the MOU, retirees hired into these positions:

  1. Will be paid at the lane and step of the salary schedule they were on when they retired, on top of receiving their monthly pension benefit;
  2. Will not be subject to teacher evaluation; and
  3. Will receive an annual allotment of benefit days under the CBA in accordance with their years of service.
  4. The amendment sunsets on June 30, 2024, but we will be advocating for an extension.

CTU Finalizes MOU on Staffing Support for Expanded Parental Leave Rights

Earlier this year, after years of advocacy from CTU members, CPS amended its policies to provide for 12 weeks of paid parental leave. This expansion of parental leave rights was likely the largest mid-contract term win in CTU history, and is now in effect. These expanded leave rights, and the ongoing local, statewide, and national teacher shortage, however, mean that CPS will need to put more resources toward staffing supports. To that end, earlier this month, the CTU finalized an MOU with CPS concerning staff to support expanded parental leave. The MOU codifies the following commitments from CPS:

  1. All cadre substitutes will be notified by CPS of TAT vacancies within their areas of licensure, and will be prioritized for hire into such vacancies.

  2. Teachers in the Reassigned Teacher Pool will be allowed to fill TAT positions without a break in service or disruption to their tenure status, and will be allowed to return to the RTP for the remainder of their RTP assignment if the TAT position closes before the RTP assignment was slated to conclude.

  3. CPS is creating a new five-day-per-week cadre substitute position. Teachers accepting five-day-per-week cadre substitute positions will receive the same health insurance benefits provided to regular teachers, including eligibility for family health insurance coverage.

  4. Per the MOU, CPS has amended the “20-day Rule” in CPS Board Rules such that substitutes who teach in the same position for more than 20 days will automatically be paid as a TAT starting on day 21. This is one of the most common grievances the CTU has had to file over the years. We are almost always able to settle those grievances to have those folks paid the difference between the substitute rate and the TAT rate beginning with day 21, but those settlements typically don’t get resolved until a year or more after the fact. The change to the 20-day rule will make those payments automatic.

    The amendment to the Board rule was in recognition of the facts that (1) this circumstance is likely to occur even more often now, given that there will be a greater number of TAT positions open with more teachers on leave for longer periods of time; and (2) there is a teacher shortage. Temporary vacancies should be filled by TATs endorsed for the position, but the amendment to Board Rule 4-3 provides that when they are not, in the interim they can be filled by five-day-per-week cadre and the cadre should be paid as a TAT automatically starting on day 21 regardless of whether they have the endorsement. In the event that a principal puts a substitute in another category (day-to-day substitute, regular cadre) in a vacancy for longer than 20 consecutive days, the Board Rule should result in those folks being paid as TATs starting on day 21 as well.  And, minimally, we would still have a basis for a grievance to recoup the pay differential in those situations starting with day 21 as we have in the past.

  5. The Board and the Union shall annually jointly survey retirees and recruit student teachers and recent college graduates to fill TAT positions created by parental leaves.

  6. Teachers who agree to cover a class during their prep will automatically receive payment the next pay cycle after losing the prep.  CPS shall provide guidance to principals advising them of the availability of central office funds to pay for this.

  7. CTU and CPS will jointly support legislation that lifts the statutory cap on the number of days retirees can teach each year while also receiving their pension.

  8. CPS will maintain all of the substitute teacher pay incentives that were in place last year—incentive pay for days worked per month, for special education substitute teachers, and for substitute teaching at high-needs schools (i.e., schools with the lowest substitute request fill rates).

  9. The Board will increase the number of Core Cadre substitutes by 50% from 10 per network to 15 per network to be deployed to schools in their network daily on an as-needed basis. Given that there are 18 networks, including the options network, this creates 90 new five-day cadre positions for the district.