Union warns CPS teachers to prepare for strike

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CHICAGO — Chicago Teachers Union leaders are warning teachers to prepare for a strike.

CTU is telling members to start saving as much as 25 percent of each paycheck to prepare for a possible protracted work stoppage.

New schools chief Forrest Claypool said that if Springfield does not bail out CPS, he may have to layoff teachers next semester.

“We will be meeting with our principals sometime in December to begin planning for reduced budgets in the Spring second semester,” Claypool said. “Those would be executed around February 1st at the beginning of the second semester which is February 8th.”

Chicago Public Schools faces a $1 billion long-term deficit and a $500 million hole in the current budget. CPS needs state lawmakers to close the budget gap.

According to CPS, state funding for other school districts has increased by $1,572 per student, while funding for Chicago Public Schools has decreased by $459 per student.

“The state is spending billions more on education for the suburbs and downstate while cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from Chicago kids,” Claypool said.

In an unusual move, Claypool is now trying to mobilize parents and the teachers’ union to pressure state lawmakers. But today the teachers’ union said they won’t until they see a long-term plan to fix CPS’s finances that does not include layoffs.

“They’re asking parents to come help them and lobby in Springfield but they don’t want to listen to parents when parents are asking them ‘Don’t close our schools. Don’ t do this. Don’t do that.’ They don’t listen to parents then. But now they want their help for a hair brain scheme that’s a very short term fix. We need a structural fix,” said CTU president Karen Lewis.

On Thursday, the union says, it will ask members to take a practice strike vote.

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