Talk of a possible Chicago teacher strike got louder Wednesday, as the head of the school system blasted a fact-finder's recommendation to give teachers a double-digit raise, saying it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and lead to mass-layoffs and classroom crowding.
“There is no way in the world we can pay $330 million in increases,” schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard told reporters at an appearance with school children on the city's West Side, echoing comments mad the day before by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The Chicago public school board, which was hand-picked by Emanuel, is expected to reject the report's findings at a meeting later Wednesday. The board and teachers union would then have 30 days in which to reach a deal before teachers could strike.
Brizard said the two sides continued to negotiate while the fact finder, Edwin Benn, prepared his report. He said “both sides have moved” from their initial bargaining positions, but he declined to discuss what progress had been made. In a sign the sides are still far apart, he noted that the union rejects a proposed annual 2 percent raise in each year of a new four-year contract, and that the CPS rejects the 18 percent first-year raise it says Benn recommended.