CPS CEO talks budget, contract proposal; Union fires back

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CHICAGO -- Chicago Public Schools put a new budget proposal on the table as it works to avoid a teachers strike and the teachers' union is firing back.

CPS CEO Forrest Claypool says this latest budget includes $150 million dollars in cuts at the central office and part of that will come from laying off about 400 employees.

He says his priority is keeping cuts out of the classroom.

Claypool also went into some detail about the latest contract proposal to the CTU.

This week-the union voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, which wouldn't take place until later this Spring.

Claypool wouldn't give any specific dollar amounts or percentages but says the latest contract proposal asks teachers for a short term sacrifice with gradual raises over the course of the four year deal.

The last time CTU agreed to a four year contract in 2011, the 4th year raise was rescinded because of the budget deficit and some question why teachers should trust the district again.

Claypool says he would be willing to put wording in the contract that protects the raise.  He also says the contract would reduce standardized testing and this is by no means a last and final offer but says time is of the essence.

“We simply want to hurry up and try to come to a deal in mid to late January so we can protect the classrooms and not have any layoffs of teachers and personnel,” Claypool said.  “We think this is a fair way to do this as long as the deep central office cuts we'll be making in the weeks to come.”

The Chicago Teachers Union released a statement today saying:

We are disappointed that after meeting Mr. Claypool less than an hour after we announced that teachers had voted for strike authorization, that he would mischaracterize a new proposal presented to the Union that we have yet to fully vet and discuss with our rank-and-file.  The mayor’s hand-picked Board continues to force a no-win choice on educators: Accept deep cuts to our salaries and health benefits now or choose massive layoffs and larger class sizes in the weeks to come.

CPS is currently facing a 1.1 billion dollar long term deficit and a 500 million dollar hole in this year's budget.
Claypool says if teachers accept this offer--he promises *no layoffs in the second semester.