Board of Education's Vitale expects classes to resume on Monday

September 14, 2012

The Associated Press and City Room

(WBEZ/Tricia Bobeda)
Board of Education president David Vitale at a press conference on Friday.
(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)
Teachers and groups supporting their union rallied downtown for the 4th day in a row on Thursday.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis says negotiators have a "framework" to end a five-day teachers strike, but members won't receive written details until Sunday. That's also the day they're expected to vote on whether to call off the strike.

Lewis spoke Friday afternoon, saying union delegates who would vote to suspend the strike won't be told what the framework is until Sunday, when they also can see the completed language. Lewis reiterated that there is no contract yet with Chicago Public Schools and she says the "strike is not suspended." But the union president says she is still hoping students will be in class on Monday.

The nearly 800-member House of Delegates could vote to suspend the strike, but not to approve the contract. Union members would vote on that later.

Teachers have been on strike since Monday leaving about 350,000 students idle.

Earlier, Chicago School Board president David Vitale told reporters, “I am pleased to tell you that we have frameworks around all the major issues that should allow us to conclude this process and to include it in time for our kids to be back in school Monday morning."  

Vitale would not say where each side compromised, and he stressed that union delegates still must vote to end the strike.

He said the agreement gives children the time they need in the classroom and teachers the respect they deserve.

A City Hall administration source close to the negotiations has said they've reach a tentative three-year deal with an option for a fourth year. 

Teachers will receive a "generous raise," the source said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's signature longer school day and school year will also remain intact, the source said.

The walkout is the first by Chicago teachers in 25 years. It has canceled five days of school for more than 350,000 students, most of whom had just returned from summer vacation. The deal also maintains CPS principals' leeway to hire the teachers they want, rather than forcing them to hire from a pool of teachers who had been laid off, the source said.

Key issues at the bargaining table have been a teacher evaluation system that uses student test scores and job-security measures for displaced teachers in the wake of school closures that are expected to continue.

The union is still planning a rally for Saturday at noon. Union delegates will have to vote to call off the strike for it to officially come to an end.