On Friday, the school district and the teachers union announced they had a “framework” for a tentative deal. Summaries of the proposed agreement have been released by both sides. The two sides decided on a three-year contract with an option to extend to a fourth year. The school district has put a price tag of $74 million per year on the deal, significantly less than the annual cost of prior contracts.
Union delegates meet again Tuesday afternoon at 3p.m., to decide whether or not to call off the strike. Calling off the strike does not mean the deal has been agreed to or ratified. A final tentative agreement must be ratified by the full membership.
Using information released by both Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union, here’s a quick rundown of the possible deal.
School day and year
Chicago public school students will all go to school on the same calendar. Currently, about one-third of CPS students are on what’s called Track E, where they start school in August, end in mid- to late-June, and have a number of longer breaks throughout the year. Now, all students will be on the same calendar.
There will be 10 more days of school going forward, bringing CPS up to 180 days of instruction. That is the state minimum. Previously, Chicago got a waiver from the state.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel will get the longer school day he promised during his campaign. But teachers and parents pushed back meaning it won’t be as long as he hoped. Elementary school students will be in session for 7 hours and high schools will be in session for 7 ½ hours. The teacher work day is defined as follows—elementary teachers will work 7 hours and high school teachers will work 7 hours and 15 minutes.
Teachers will get a 3 percent cost of living raise in the first year, followed by 2 percent raises in the second and third year. If the union agrees to a fourth year, teachers will get another 3 percent raise.
Raises based on experience, also called “steps,” will be maintained. Initially, the Board wanted to completely eliminate these. Not only did the union successfully negotiate them back in, they also got the board to agree to larger “step” raises for teachers in their 14th, 15th and 16th year.
Raises for additional education, also called “lanes,” will also be maintained.
The union has touted a victory in defeating what they call “merit pay.” Merit pay, which ties a teacher’s salary to student test scores, is increasingly controversial and research on its effectiveness is mixed. CPS wanted to implement what they called “differentiated pay,” which ties salary to student growth on tests, but also rewards teachers for things like being a mentor teacher and working in hard-to-staff schools and subjects. CPS still wants to set up a joint-committee to work on a new compensation system.
Teachers will now be evaluated based on a combination of student growth on test scores and classroom observations. The two sides previously agreed to use student surveys, but those are now optional.
The first year of ratings will have no impact on a teacher who has already achieved tenure.
Student growth will be phased in over three years and will count for no more than 30 percent, the minimum required by state law. Controversial “value-added” test scores will count for anywhere between 0 and 25 percent, depending on what grade and subject a teacher teaches.
In the optional fourth year, student growth would count for 35 percent.
Recall and Layoff
The board claimed victory on this issue when announcing that principals get the final say on who they decide to hire.
However, the union did get language that addresses their concerns about school closures, phase-outs and consolidations. The proposed agreement allows teachers who are rated “satisfactory” or “excellent” the opportunity to follow students to their reassigned school. CPS also says it will try to fill 50 percent of its vacancies with highly-rated teachers that have been laid off.
Teachers also will continue to get either a 12-week payout when they lose their job or 40 weeks in the reassignment pool (20 weeks with full pay and 20 weeks at a lower rate).
Other contract changes
Anti-bullying clause prohibits “abusive and demeaning conduct” by principals.
The board eliminated the practice of banking sick days, but is allowing teachers to keep their current bank and use it toward their pension.
Maternity leave is added for the first time, with the first month at full pay, the second month at 80 percent and the third month at 60 percent. Paternity leave will also be included, though details are unclear.
Language on class sizes remains the same.
Teachers can be reimbursed up to $250 for classroom supplies.
CPS will continue to have complete freedom to offer school choice, including new magnet, selective enrollment and charter schools.