Teachers at 4 charter schools operated by CICS on strike Tuesday

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Teachers at four Chicago International Charter School campuses went on strike Tuesday.

Teachers walked out at four Chicago International Charter School campuses at 6 a.m. after nine months of bargaining. Those campuses include CICS ChicagoQuest, Northtown, Wrightwood and Ralph Ellison schools and 175 teachers will be hitting picket lines.

"It's frustrating to be on the picket line because you would rather be teaching instead of wasting time out here not feeding and nurturing your students," said teacher Monica Munoz-Lewis.

The four campuses will remain open during the strike and will operate on their normal schedules. A handful of children showed up for a non-instructional day, but almost all four campus classrooms are empty as teachers send a message to management.

"The demands as of right now...lower our class sizes," said CTU vice president Stacy Davis Gates. "Make sure that we have counselors. Make sure that we have social workers. Come to the table with something that looks like a respectable package."

"I'm willing to do what it takes to provide for my family just like I provide for my students and their families every single day, so we just want fair treatment," said Wrightwood teacher Vaeshan Hudson- Pitts.

Meanwhile, Civitas Education Partners, which manages the schools say teachers were offered 28 percent raises over four years, more paid time off and other concessions.

Both sides resumed negotiations Tuesday morning.

"I actually think we are incredibly close," said Northtown Academy Principal Torry Bennett. "Yesterday, negotiations were going well. Conversations were progressive. We are coming very close on issues like evaluation and working conditions."

But the CTU says both sides are not close to a deal unless decision makers from management are sent to the table.

Meanwhile teachers are finding some support from parents.

"I'm really shocked and surprised, but I understand why they're doing it," said parent Teighlor Foster. "They want more money so... Yes I do so as my support I'm taking her to school with me today."

Management also saying they're deeply disappointed by the strike and that it will place a big burden on students and families.

Civitas put out a statement overnight saying: "Our first responsibility is the safety and well-being of each of the 2,200 students who attend our four schools. If teachers go on strike, it is simply too great a burden on the families of those students to close our schools when many families will struggle to find alternative care for their children. Because of this commitment to our families, our schools will remain open which requires enough adults in the building to ensure that students are safe. Our preference is to come to an agreement before Tuesday so that our teachers can remain in their classrooms with their students. We are willing to negotiate around the clock to make that happen."
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