By Diane Pathieu, ABC7 News
It’s back to school Tuesday for Chicago Public School students, but there’s still the threat of a possible teachers’ strike.
In honor of the first day of school, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson will ring the school bell and cut the ribbon for the very first time at the new Englewood STEM High School, welcoming 400 new students.
The new $85 million state-of-the-art high school features world-class multipurpose educational spaces, a modern outdoor sports facility and a school-based health center to be used by both students and the surrounding community.
This first day of school begins as CPS teachers are preparing for a strike. The teachers rejected the city’s offer last week of a five-year deal that would give them a 16 percent pay hike.
Mayor Lightfoot remains confident that a strike can be avoided.
“I really do think that we have all the tools that we need and an offer on the table to be able to get the deal done,” Lightfoot said. “Despite the rhetoric in the public, at the bargaining table we are definitely making progress and we will continue to do everything we can.”
CTU held a press conference Tuesday morning saying they are committed to negotiations.
“We want to see provisions that guarantee that there’s justice for our students and their communities and then finally we need better pay and benefits for teachers,” said CTU President Jesse Sharkey. “So broadly speaking, those are the issues and we we are going to keep negotiating until we see that.”
Mayor Lightfoot will participate in a back-to-school rally at Englewood Stem High School at 8:30 a.m.
This article originally appeared on ABC7 News.