After months of pressure from CTU rank-and-file, Chicago Public Schools is changing its outside experience policy.

This is a major victory for our members as we continue transforming our school district. The strike was just the beginning. Our union, and our sisters and brothers in places like St. Paul, Minnesota, and across the city and country, are making sacrifices to ensure a better future for educators, students and school communities.

When we fight, we win, and there is power in our union because there is power in our organizing.

Remember, this wasn’t an issue until we made it an issue in our contract fight. CPS is changing this policy because we walked picket lines for 11 days and gave up six days of pay to win enforceable class size caps, case managers, English Language Program Teachers and more.

With a landmark contract in hand putting nurses and social workers in every school, and protecting special education students and students in temporary living situations, hundreds of educators voiced their concerns during the comment period on the Board of Ed’s website. As a result, the district will adjust its policy to address the fairness and leapfrogging to a significant degree.

CPS will move current members up to a maximum of step 8 to match the policy for new hires with up to eight years of outside experience. Prior to our advocacy, CPS planned to count up to 10 years outside experience and not address leapfrogging.

This change means around 1,400 members will see additional salary adjustments that average an additional $5,500, and then increased salary going forward. Counselors will also receive lane credit. Members who have not yet reached salary step 8, but have up to eight years of outside experience will receive a one-time payment adjustment and be moved to the appropriate salary step up to step 8.

The limit of this adjustment is that members who have already reached step 8 will not see an adjustment, but they will not be leapfrogged by other members.

This is great work that would not have been possible without advocacy from members who made their voices heard. The same goes for the work that members and union allies did in forcing the Board of Ed to rename “Columbus Day,” “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” Let’s continue to fight just as hard for other issues like veteran pay. We have filed our unfair labor practice charge with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board regarding that, and an investigator has asked the Board of Ed to file its response by March 2. We will share more information with you as we learn it.

The full Q&A on step adjustments for outside teaching experience is below, including information on the procedure to demonstrate via documentation additional years of outside experience in order to make the adjustments for eligible members.

The key changes are found on page 8, in Section III.K of the document. All new language is underlined throughout the document.

Proposed Change to Step Adjustment Policy

Questions and Answers

Who is affected by these changes?

Teachers at district-run schools who would start next school year at less than Step 8 can see their step raised by outside experience. Counselors will also receive lane credit.

When will the new policy take effect?

Step adjustments can be made as early as July 1, 2020. You will still be able to apply after that date, but the step increase will only be applied to pay starting on the date that you submit your application.

How much will this increase my salary?

Your new salary will be based on your new step placement. The highest step on which you can be placed due to this adjustment is Step 8. Those applying the most outside years to next school year’s annual salary could see more than $11,000 increase in annual salary.

Will I get retroactive pay for this increase?

No. This is a one-time opportunity to apply outside experience to change your step assignment. Your new step will only be applied after you’ve submitted your application and the earliest CPS will apply it is July 1, 2020.

How do I apply for the step change?

The Board of Ed’s new rule states that “Procedures for obtaining this one-time step placement adjustment shall be established by the Chief Talent Officer, in alignment with other step placement procedures.” While we don’t yet have confirmation (CPS will email members about it), it appears that the application process will be essentially the same as the application process for new hires to adjust steps for outside credit.