Chicago’s teacher strike over; CPS students back in class Friday

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CHICAGO — The Chicago Teachers Union strike is over after 11 school days and students will return to the classroom Friday.

Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union reached a tentative contract agreement Thursday, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot. The agreement was reached after a two-hour meeting at City Hall.

"We’re happy that we able to come to an agreement with our partners at CTU and make sure that our kids have a return to normalcy and to get back to what’s important," CPS CEO Janice Jackson said.

The CTU approved the tentative agreement Wednesday night but teachers refused to go back to work, demanding CPS make up the days lost during the strike. Without those make-up days, teachers won't be paid for the time lost during the strike.

The impasse has led to more than 300,000 students missing 11 days of school. Five of the missed school days during the strike will be made up, Lightfoot said. The union wanted compensation for all 11.

"In the interest of our students and our parents who have been suffering it was important to me to make sure that we got our kids back in class. Enough is enough," the mayor said.

The strike began Oct. 17.

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Earlier Thursday, Lightfoot said the teachers union's demand to make up two weeks of lost class time because of their strike is a "nonstarter."

"We have been told by the CTU that they will end the strike only if we agree to make up all the days missed due to the strike. They basically issued a take it or leave it demand they get 11 days back or the strike continues," said Lightfoot.

Lightfoot said Thursday that CTU presented a "unilateral demand" as they accepted a tentative agreement late Wednesday with the nation's third-largest district.

Jackson said earlier that making up the lost days would require cutting winter or spring break days or adding days to the end of the year. She also said there isn't a way to do it without further disrupting families' lives.

"We’re on Day 11. In order to make that up there’s really no way to do that except to tack it on at the end of the school year or take away winter break. These are two periods of time where we know families have already made arrangements," said Jackson. "Children won’t be present. Many of our teachers won’t even be present on those days."

The State of Illinois requires at least 180 school days a year. CPS had eight emergency days built into the schedule. The missed days could be made up starting June 19.

The Board of Education will vote on when to add days during its meeting on Nov. 20.

There were seven days lost during the 2012 teachers strike. Those were made up by shortening winter break and adding days at the end of the year.

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