CHICAGO (WLS) --Chicago Public Schools has ordered three furlough days for all staff members. Officials say it will save an estimated $30 million.
As part of the order, classes on March 25, which is Good Friday, will be cancelled. That is the only scheduled school day impacted by the order. The other two days will differ for Central Office and Network Office staff and school-based employees. School-based employees will have to non-instructional, professional development days in June furloughed; Central and Network office staff will be furloughed for two days in April while schools are on Spring Break.
"It's never easy to furlough employees, but our priority was to preserve instructional time for our students while preserving year-end cash and continuing to chip away at our budget gap," said CPS CEO Forrest Claypool.
Employees will not work on or be paid for the furlough days.
The Chicago Teacher's Union responded to CPS's announcement saying the likelihood of a teacher's strike has been increased - although CPS maintains that a strike in April is illegal.
"A strike is illegal in April. Statute requires that certain conditions be met, including finishing the fact-finding process. That ends in mid-May," said Emily Bittner, CPS spokesperson.
CTU President Karen Lewis says the decision "only strengthens our resolve to shut down the school district on April 1."
Lewis called the furlough days a pay cut, as Good Friday is typically a paid holiday, and said CPS "should have never extended the school year in the first place if they couldn't afford to do so."
"We're looking at a work stoppage on April 1," said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. "There is an awful lot of anger out there among our members. They see this as insult on top of injury."
"People are not going to take this lying down," Sharkey continued. "We're going to stand up and take action if the board is going to come after us like this."
CPS and CTU have been negotiating for a year and a half, and another round is scheduled for next week.
"We'll keep talking to the board, obviously," said Sharkey. "We are not going to walk away from the table. We're going to keep talking."
The furlough dates are:
March 25 - All employees
April 21 - Non-school based staff
April 22 - Non-school based staff
June 22 - Teachers, PSRP's, and school-based ESPs furloughed
June 23 - Teachers, PSRP's, and school-based ESPs furloughed