CPS teachers protest decision to rescind pay raise

June 22, 2011 3:18:39 PM PDT
Chicago public school teachers are protesting a decision to rescind their 4 percent annual pay raise because of a $700 million budget deficit.

Hundreds of teachers rallied outside Board of Education headquarters in the Loop as its members met Wednesday.

Teachers protested on the same say the school board was set to consider raises for its top executives--salaries that Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended Wednesday.

Teachers are calling on the district to open its books and explain the budget priorities for next school year. They carried signs that stated "I've been Rahmed." Hundreds of Chicago public school teachers protested the school board's decision to take away their 4 percent raise.

"We work hard every day to earn that money," said teacher John Charles.

"I think all the schools should be audited before talking away our 4 percent raise," said Patti McNally.

"This is a contract we fought hard to attain," said Elyse Quinn. "We should be able to keep it, especially when the board is voting extravagant salaries in your face."

Mayor Emanuel's hand-picked school board approved six-figure salaries for Chicago Public Schools top five executives. All are making more money than their predecessors.

At $250,000, CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard's salary is $20,000 more than Ron Huberman's. The chief of staff is getting a $49,000 raise. The chief administrative officer is up to $215,000, from about $179,000 and the chief communications officer is in for close to a $25,000 raise.

The mayor and CPS officials say these positions are taking on more responsibilities than their predecessors.

"Many people are working harder for less," Emanuel said.

CPS is facing a $712 million budget deficit. Emanuel says teachers have had raises every year, and despite not getting one next school year, the mayor says three-quarters of the teachers are still due a raise because of seniority and advanced degrees.

Last week, the mayor said it is the students who have been getting, "the shaft."

"When we heard that, an audible gasp, because we have been working more with less for years," said teacher Ed Hershey.

Teachers say they are no longer paid for after school programs such as tutoring or coaching. Many also say their salaries help pay for classroom supplies, including books.

The school district and the teachers union are still in the process of setting a date to negotiate the board's decision to rescind the raise. Many teachers say they are willing to strike.

The Chicago Teachers Union president, Karen Lewis, earns close to $188,000 a year.

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