• About
  • Press
  • Topics
  • Contact

Substitute Teacher Issues

Substitute teachers play an essential role in our students‘ education and in making it possible for educators to survive CPS, being able to take days for professional development, personal business or take care of their health or that of family members. Substitute teachers have an especially difficult job, walking into classrooms day after day where they don’t have the advantage of long-standing relationships with students or the instructional arc of a unit plan. Below are resources to support these essential educators.
Last updated February 11, 2022

Know Your Rights Flyer

Substitute Teachers are vitally important to CPS schools. Substitute teachers play an essential role in our students’ education. School communities depend on substitutes to ensure that learning continues in the absence of an assigned teacher. Below are some specific safeguards and policies that support and protect our members who work as substitute teachers.

School Assignments

Substitute Teachers shall work in a respectful and supportive environment. If you accept an assignment less than one hour before the school’s start time, contact the school to confirm that the assignment is still available. If so, you will be allowed an hour of travel time. If a school fails to provide prior notification upon arrival that an assignment was canceled, you should immediately contact Substitute Services who will approve payment for a half day or help you secure a full-day assignment at a school nearby.

No substitute teacher shall be penalized for time errors generated by the BOARD’s substitute staffing system (currently Frontline). The BOARD shall report school start times accurately on the substitute staffing system. (Article 27-11)

According to Section 4-3 of the Board Rules, day-to-day substitutes may not be assigned to fill the same position on a day-to-day basis for more than twenty (20) consecutive student attendance days.

Cadre substitutes may only be assigned to fill the same position for up to twenty (20) consecutive student attendance days.

Substitute Work Day

Substitute Teachers are paid 6.25 hours per day. You are entitled to a 
duty-free lunch. Despite the Board’s position that substitute teachers are ineligible for preparation periods, the Union encourages you to continue to advocate for preparation time. The duties performed by substitute teachers are to be instructional and should follow the teacher’s schedule. You should have access to technology at the schools where you accept assignments. You also have the ability to provide feedback concerning your assignment in the feedback section provided by CPS in the Frontline system.

Substitute Teacher Incentive Pay

Through the end of the third academic quarter, substitute teachers (excluding cadres) who work 15 or more days in a month, including 6 out of 8 Mondays and Fridays in the month, will receive a $1,000 stipend.

Per CTU advocacy, CPS has agreed that day to day and provisional substitute teachers who work 75% of working days in January 2022 will be eligible to receive the $1,000 additional stipend. By our count, there are 12 working days with students this month: 1/12, 1/13, 1/14, 1/18, 1/19, 1/20, 1/21, 1/24, 1/25, 1/26, 1/27, and 1/31. Substitute teachers would need to work 9 out of 12 of them to receive the stipend. If CPS tries to use the two days before the remote work action (1/3 and 1/4) when no Safety Agreement extending this stipend was in place, CTU will pursue grievance remedy and other action.

For any month that a substitute (excluding cadres) works 12 or more days, that substitute will receive an additional monetary stipend of $420 per month.

All substitutes who work during January 2022 will receive a daily $30 stipend in addition to any other eligible stipends.

For any day that a substitute works in a high need school, that substitute will receive an additional monetary incentive. Additional pay will be $45 per day.

There are 125 high need schools that are part of the Substitute Teacher Incentive Program. For the 2021-22 List of Incentive Schools please go to or click on the following link tinyurl.com/d36b4uhv. These schools will also be identifiable in Frontline – indicated by the word “incentive” following the name of the school.

Special Education Incentive Pay

Any day that a sped-endorsed retired substitute works in a special education class, that retired substitute will receive an additional monetary incentive. Additional pay will be $35 per day.

Details about the Substitute Teacher and Special Education Incentive Pay can be found in the Substitute Teacher Handbook.

Citywide Cadre Substitutes

Cadre Substitute Teachers are guaranteed work every day of student attendance. A principal may permit a Cadre substitute to work on professional development on report card pick-up days, provided that the local school pays for the cost of such service. Make sure that you have confirmation of compensation in writing before reporting to work on a non-student-attendance day. As a cadre sub, you are eligible for single coverage health insurance and holiday pay if you work the school day before AND after the holiday.

If you are a day-to-day substitute and would like to be hired as a cadre substitute teacher, you must:

  1. agree to work three days per week; and
  2. commit to accepting assignments in any and every school.

If you are interested in becoming a cadre substitute, please contact Substitute Services.

Short-Term Substitute License

To address the substitute shortage, CPS will now be accepting a Short-Term Substitute Teacher License for candidates with an Associate’s degree or at least 60 college credit hours. For information about obtaining a license and employment, go to cps.edu/iwanttosub.

Remember to Stay Active as a Substitute!

According to the CPS Substitute Handbook, in order to remain an active substitute teacher in CPS, you MUST work at minimum one day every 90-calendar days during the school year. If you do not work at least once every 90 days during the school year, your employment as a substitute teacher may end. We are currently in the process of negotiating a temporary extension to this policy. Stay tuned for more details concerning this policy.

Right to Union Representation

Substitute teachers have the right to union representation for disciplinary matters including investigations conducted by the CPS Law Department, Department of Children and Family Services, the Office of Inspector General, and the Office of Student Protection.

Right to Notification of Derogatory Statements

Substitute teachers have a right to be notified if they have been blocked or excluded from a school. Additionally, Article 34-3 states, in part, that any official report or statement originating within the CPS may be placed in the employee’s personnel file only if the employee is sent a dated copy thereof at the same time. The employee may respond and such a response shall be attached to the filed copy. You have a right to receive a copy of any derogatory statement placed in your personnel file, especially if it can be later used against you in an investigatory conference.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at 312-329-9100 if you have any questions or concerns about your rights as a substitute teacher. ▣

Substitute Teachers Handbook

The Chicago Teachers Union worked diligently to ensure that CPS produced this important document to provide guidance, support and expectations for substitute teachers.

Join the Displaced and Substitute Teachers Committee

The Displaced and Substitute Teachers Committee was established in 2010 to address the needs of members who are displaced from closed positions and/or who are substituting in classrooms. Click the button below to download the committee application form, which is to be completed and returned to President Jesse Sharkey for approval and assignment.

General CTU Information

Sign: Our working conditinos equal your child's learning environment

Find Your Union Representatives

Your union field representative and organizer have your back. Find out which staff members are assigned to your school.

Current Contract

Your contract is powerful… if you use it! Union staff will help you learn your rights and will back you up every step of the way.

CTU Speaks! Podcast

Our podcast, CTU Speaks! is hosted by Andrea Parker and Jim Staros. We’ll chat about our union, enforcing our contract, and our fight for the schools our students and educators deserve.

Listen Now!