CPS releases contingency plan in case of strike

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Chicago Public Schools released a contingency plan Tuesday in case of strike in one week. (WLS)

Chicago Public Schools released a contingency plan for where parents can send their students if teachers go on strike Tuesday.

During the 2012 strike CPS had designated schools that were open for students who had no place to go. This time, all CPS schools will be open with principals and other CPS staff members keeping children engaged with various activities.

On Tuesday Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis made a public appearance with the Jewish group Tzedek Chicago in front of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office, but she offered no hints on the reality of a strike.

The group held a solidarity event for teachers on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, but Lewis had no interest in talking shop.

"I don't want to talk about it today, this is not a work day this is a religious holiday," Lewis said.

When pressed further about a possible strike on Tuesday, Lewis walked away. If teachers walk away from their jobs next week, Chicago Public Schools has budgeted $15 million for a contingency plan.

While a strike will cancel classes and extracurricular activities, CPS said all schools will remain open during their regular bell schedules. Free breakfast and lunch will be provided and schools will be staffed with everyone but CTU members.

Still, Aldermen said CPS cannot afford another strike.

"If we keep having disruptions to school year and cuts in services that's going to encourage more and more parents to leave the system," said Alderman Joe Moore of the 49th Ward.

CPS is down almost 14,000 students compared to last year. While teachers have been pushing for more revenue sources such as funding from tax increment financing districts, some at City Hall said it's not enough to close the gap.

"Instability breeds instability," said Alderman Rick Munoz of the 22nd Ward. "All parties involved here, the mayor, Forrest Claypool and the CTU needs to come to the table basically lock the door and figure out what needs to happen."

The contingency plan does not include bus service, but the CTA is offering free transportation for CPS students for the duration of the strike. Park district facilities and Chicago Public Libraries will also be used as safe haven locations.

Negotiations are scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
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