Quick Hit Ellyn Fortino Wednesday November 2nd, 2016, 4:01pm

CTU President: New Contract A Step Toward 'Rebuilding Trust' Between Teachers, City

Now that Chicago Teachers Union members have ratified a new contract, CTU President Karen Lewis detailed what comes next for the union and Chicago Public Schools district.

"We will work with them to shore up their financial issues by promoting legislation that will adequately and equitably fund all of Illinois' schools," she said during a speech before the City Club of Chicago.

CTU members approved the four-year contract agreement late Tuesday. Preliminary vote results showed that 72 percent of CTU members authorized the deal.

In discussing the vote results, Lewis said, "What I can tell you is that the level of distrust between the district, parents, educators and communities is still high, and will need a lot of work to repair these wounds."

CPS officials, however, are "looking at how to be more inclusive in the process of decision-making with us," Lewis said. As part of the contract deal, the union and school district agreed to establish a joint budget committee.

"We actually have language in the contract that sets up a board-union panel that will look at these things," Lewis told reporters after the event. "Whether they'll do what we ask, we don't know. But they haven't done anything yet, so this is the first step towards, I think, ... rebuilding some trust."

Over four years, the contract is expected to cost the district approximately $9.5 billion. In a press release issued Wednesday, CPS announced it expects to spend $400 million less than it would have under the previous contract. 

"Our agreement with the CTU is the most cost-effective contract in the history of CPS mayoral control," CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement. "We are pleased that students can continue to learn uninterrupted, teachers receive a well-deserved raise and the district can bend its cost curve. We are optimistic that with a new collective bargaining agreement in place, we will be able to work together to advocate for the resources our students deserve from the state."

Chicago's school board will vote on the contract and the district's revised budget on December 7.

District officials said the revised budget includes a $55 million increase in expenditures, which will be funded by city tax increment financing, or TIF, dollars.

CTU leaders said the four-year contract agreement contains approximately $350 million more in funding than the district's previous contract offer from January. 

During her City Club of Chicago speech, Lewis highlighted key items from the new contract, including the additional TIF revenue.

"We have been talking about TIFs and opening up that piggy bank for a while, and that piggy bank was opened," Lewis said.

The mayor, she added, "has made a commitment to work with us on finding funding for sustainable community schools" that will have "engaging and culturally relevant curriculum, with an emphasis on restorative justice rather than punishment."

Lewis was also pleased that the contract includes a cap on charter schools. Over the life of the contract, there will be a net zero increase in charter schools. 

The public can comment on CPS' revised budget at two hearings. Both will be held Monday, November 28 at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. at the district's headquarters, 42 W. Madison St.

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