Teachers Union won't give strike notice, Chicago Public Schools expected to start on schedule Sept. 4

August 24, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Union officials say they will not file a 10-day intent to strike notice Friday or Saturday, which means class should begin at the remaining CPS schools on time.

Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he's going to do everything in his power to make sure they do.

Emanuel talked about how some public schools use a longer school day as he vowed to get a deal with teachers done, even if it means joining the negotiations himself.

"So if everybody at the negotiating table, remember it's about the children, it's not about the adults," said Emanuel. "If I have to [get involved], sure."

The mayor reiterated his pledge of involvement Friday afternoon as he toured Nathanael Greene Elementary School, one of Chicago Public School's year round schools.

Word that Emanuel may join contract negotiations drew strong reaction from Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who is working relationship with the mayor appears to be less than positive.

"I don't know what his negotiating skills are ... do you know him?" said Lewis.

CTU members held another informational picket Friday morning at the Red Line's 95th Street station as the threat of the first teachers strike since 1997continued to loom.

Union officials have said they will not file a 10-day strike notice Friday or Saturday, meaning CPS classes will start on time - September 4th.

"We're really focused on day to day and making sure we're serving the needs of every kid," said Michael Heidkamp, Nathanael Greene Elementary principal

CPS officials released a statement in response to CTU's assertion that school will start on time. It reads, in part, "The Chicago teachers union and the school district agree school must and will start on time with the full school day on September 4th."

And while classes may begin just how long they'll remain in session is unclear.

"We're still very far apart on the issues that are important to us," Lewis said.

Initially seen as a step toward averting a strike, Lewis says a lot of teachers dissatisfied with how the longer school day has been implemented.

At a Wednesday meeting, the school board did approve a $25 million strike contingency plan that would kick in if a 10-day strike notice is filed. Negotiations continue.

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