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CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposed budget for Chicago Public Schools will focus on spending money in low income neighborhoods. 

The mayor is proposing a $7.7 billion dollar spending plan that shows a new priority for CPS — fixing up schools in under-served neighborhoods. However, the Chicago Teachers Union said it has concerns and wants the proposals to be written promises.

Lightfoot had a simple message for the Chicago Teachers Union as contract negotiations head into a critical period before the start of the new school year, saying she’s offered a fair compensation package to the teachers.

“There’s no reason why that shouldn’t happen, really within the next couple of weeks, we know what the issues are. The fact liner has laid it out very clear, we should get it done,” Lightfoot said.

However, the union president said both sides remain far apart on wages and key staffing issues.

“That contract is up. That contract is the most important thing that guarantees the way our working conditions – and learning conditions looks,” Jesse Sharkey, CTU president, said.

The back-and-forth comes on the day that the mayor proposed a $7.7 billion budget for the Chicago Public Schools 2020 school year.

The mayor plans to spend $619 million dollars to upgrade facilities at 300 schools — the majority of that money will go to schools that serve low-income students.

  • $120 million would go to pre-K classrooms with the goal to provide free, full-day pre-K to all four-year-olds in the city by 2021
  • $85 million would  be spent to provide high speed internet at schools
  • $12 million would go to bolster english  as a second language programs
  • $10 million would be used to hire nurses and social workers

CPS CEO Janice Jackson said the additional social workers will help students deal with trauma, which will relieve the burden from teachers, so they can concentrate on the classroom.  

“They can handle the instructional part – what needs to take place in the classroom every single day, but that they need additional support for issues that come into the classroom,” she said.

The union said the proposal should be in the new union contract.

“Last school year, the board promised social workers, special educators and yet we’ve seen a majority of those positions go unfilled anything less than enforceable contract language in the CTU agreement is not acceptable,” Sharkey said.

Contract negotiations between CPS and the union are ongoing.

Both sides are hoping to avoid a strike.