New school year clouded with strike threat

September 4, 2012 4:07:07 AM PDT
It is now just hours away from the start of a new school year for thousands of Chicago public school students and teachers.

Classes get under way Tuesday morning under the cloud of threatened teachers' strike that could begin next week.

This is a big deal.

Nathan and Leo get to make their own lunches this year.

They are excited for the first day of school as are their parents, who hope Tuesday isn't a false start.

"The kids need to be in school," said Amy Smolensky. "The strike isn't good for anybody, especially for the children."

"We know the stress on families, the stress on our schools and teachers. All we want to do is remove that and make sure schools continue," said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard.

On Monday, teachers rallied for a new contract they will support.

The Chicago Teachers Union authorized a strike next Monday if no deal is reached.

CTU president called Mayor Rahm Emanuel "a liar and a bully" during this process. But about the situation now.

"I am a glass-half-full woman that's just who I am. I am extremely optimistic," Union President Karen Lewis said.

Mayor Emanuel said Monday the negotiations are not personal and emphasized the need for an agreement.

"To the parents, tonight make sure your kids' outfits are out on the bed, so Tuesday morning they can get ready for school that will start on time and it will be a new beginning," Emanuel said.

Families throughout Chicago are hoping it will be a beginning without interruption for their children.

"I'm an optimist, I think things will work out," said Dan Smolensky. "But we don't know what will be coming."

The last teachers' strike was 25 years ago and lasted 19 days.

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