Chicago teachers drag into fourth day of strike with both sides optimistic

theGRIO REPORT - Chicago Teachers’ Union president Karen Lewis and school board president David Vitale showed optimistic signs that an agreement could be reached soon...

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Meanwhile, on day three, there wasn’t much debate on the district’s proposal to raise salaries by 16 percent over the course of four years. Vitale contends that school closings and consolidations could free up some of the funds needed for those raises.

“Dealing with that excess capacity will yield some of the money that we would need…look at what our needs are and try to figure out how aggressive or unaggressive we would have to be,” he said Wednesday night.

Wednesday afternoon, CPS officials released their latest proposal. The CPS board of education has honored teachers’ request to re-structure raises in the newest version. During the first year of a teacher’s tenure, evaluations may not result in dismissal of the teacher. Evaluations performed later may be appealed.

“The new proposal also removes the district’s ability to rescind raises because of an economic crisis,” reported the Chicago Tribune. Last year, the board of education denied teachers a 4 percent raise.

Earlier in the day, civil rights activist Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. said he had met with both sides separately, offered to help mediate and urged them to come to an agreement soon. “The longer this battle takes place, the more painful it will be,” Jackson said to reporters early Wednesday evening.

Over 26,000 teachers remain off the job Thursday leaving 350,000 students out of school as contract negotiations continue.

Renita D. Young is a multimedia journalist based in Chicago. Follow her on Twitter @RenitaDYoung