An arbitrator's fact-finding report on the contentious issue of Chicago Public School teachers' raises won't even be formally presented to the district and the teachers union until Wednesday, but reports already indicate that both sides will quickly reject it.
The report, compiled by Glencoe attorney Edwin Benn, is expected to recommend that teachers receive a 15 to 20 percent salary hike in the first year of the contract to compensate for hours added to the school day by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year, the Chicago Tribune reports.
That figure falls well below the 30 percent teachers have been fighting for, but is still a significant improvement on the 2 percent raise the district originally offered teachers.
CPS currently faces an expected $665 million deficit after the announcement last week that next year's budget drains public school cash reserves while reinvesting in charter school programs. Teachers and activists booed CPS Chief Administrator Tim Cawley when he unveiled the preliminary budget proposal at a public hearing Wednesday.
Teachers and the district have both acknowledged that any pay raise would require cuts elsewhere, which could cost some staff their jobs. But CTU President Karen Lewis said in a statement that the current negotiations involve more complex factors.
“Wages, benefits and job protection are important parts of any labor agreement,” Lewis said in a statement. “However, we have maintained all along that these negotiations are not just about the bread and butter issues that impact public school educators. We sincerely want to make the learning conditions better for our students.”
The teachers union voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike last month if an agreement can't be reached.
But the Chicago Sun-Times reports that, compared to other metropolitan areas, Chicago's teachers' salaries rank high among the country's 10 largest cities. The newspaper examined data from the 2011-2012 school year and found that Chicago offered higher starting salaries to teachers than any other school district. It's also the only city to pick up a pension contribution on behalf of teachers at 7 percent.
State test scores returned this week show improvements in student performance, but by the smallest margin reported in seven years, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Teachers must wait 30 days after rejecting the arbitrator's proposal before calling for a walkout.