By Crusader Staff Reporter
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) on Wednesday, September 28, set a strike date for Tuesday, October 11, a move that threatens to shut down the Chicago Public School system that’s struggling with declining enrollment and pending cuts.
The CTU’s House of Delegates approved the strike date at a meeting late Wednesday afternoon.
The move came after the CTU on Monday, September 26 voted to go on strike to voice their opposition to paying more into their pension plans. About 95 percent of participating union members supported the move.
Wednesday’s decision to strike falls in line with Illinois state law, which says a union must file a 10-day strike notice with the state’s labor board.
Leaders of the CTU, which represents nearly 30,000 teachers and support staff, indicated over the summer that a strike was possible as soon as October.
Its not clear whether the strike date was a negotiation tactic but after the announcement, the Chicago Board of Education acknowledged the potential for a strike and authorized a $15 million emergency plan to shelter and feed students if teachers walk off the job.
Like the strike in 2012, Chicago Public Schools would work with the city, the Chicago Park District and other agencies to provide facilities for students.
The developments come as CPS stands to lose as many as 300 teachers and $45 million because of declining student enrollment.
According to the latest figures, student enrollment is at 378,481, a 3.5 percent decline from the previous year. There are 13,804 fewer students enrolled in CPS this year, according to the district.
The drop — based on enrollment on the 10th day of school — is more than double what CPS had forecast in July.
Schools receive funding through a student-based budgeting system.
Because of the enrollment decline, schools will collectively see $30.7 million in budget cuts.
The district will provide $5.7 million to protect “critical academic programming” from being cut at hard-hit schools.
There could be 300 layoffs tied to the enrollment decline.
And on Monday, September 26, Moody’s Investors Service lowered the district’s bond rating to deeper junk status with a B3 rating.
Moody’s based the rating on the district’s reliance on short-term borrowing, a “deepening structural deficit” and a budget “built on unrealistic expectations” of help from a struggling state government that is also plagued by financial woes.