CTU to lead walk-ins at CPS schools over funding

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As the clock ticks toward potential end-of-month layoffs, supporters at more than 200 Chicago Public School campuses plan to “walk in” to school buildings Wednesday in protest of funding levels by the district.

The Chicago Teachers Union, which continues to hammer out a contract with CPS, is coordinating the actions with the American Federation of Teachers as part of a national movement in more than two dozen cities to “reclaim our schools.”

Parents, students and teachers are being encouraged to participate in what the CTU called “nonviolent direct action against school policies” before and after school.

But the walk-ins locally also are aimed at drumming up parent support for the union’s ongoing contract fight in which the CTU accuses CPS of failing to address the critical needs of students and crying “broke on purpose.” The parties next meet Wednesday.

“We demand revenue to fully fund our schools,” the union said in a news release announcing its plans.

CPS sent a letter home to parents and staff Tuesday saying that principals are not to let strangers inside buildings.

“Our priority tomorrow will be to keep students safe and make sure their learning is not disrupted,” CEO Forrest Claypool wrote.

CPS sent detailed instructions to principals, asking them to prevent anyone from entering schools except for staff and pre-approved visitors.

It specifically told principals to report “possible protesters, locations, dates and times” as well as any media outlets to central office and to maintain a list of participants during any meetings or question-and-answer sessions.

CPS recently borrowed $725 million in high-interest bonds to cover operations for the remainder of the year while awaiting pension help from Springfield. Still the district told its principals to hand in amended budgets Tuesday to reflect midyear cuts estimated to save about $35 million through June. Cuts to charter schools account for about $7.5 million of that.

The district has threatened layoffs by Feb. 29 if the district fails to reach a contract with the CTU. But the union denies that cuts are necessary, saying that CPS has the cash to finish the school year.

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