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What CPS parents need to know about Friday’s teacher walkout

Chicago Teachers Union members cheered as Karen Lewis, the union president spoke at a news conference on Wednesday after the CTU voted to approve a one-day walkout on April 1. AP photo

The Chicago Teachers Union is planning a one-day walkout on Friday. Here are some key questions and answers for parents with children in the Chicago Public Schools.

What’s going to happen?

The CTU has asked all 27,000 of its members to not go to work and, instead, to picket at their schools beginning at 6:30 a.m. Friday.

The teachers union also plans other activities around the city with other union workers demanding increased state funding for CPS — rallies, marches and “teach-ins” at Chicago State University and Northeastern University starting at 10 a.m., marches from schools to the Cook County Jail and juvenile detention center during the morning and early afternoon and a 4 p.m. rally at the Thompson Center downtown.

Where are all of the kids in Chicago schools supposed to go?

With help from other city agencies, including the library system and the Chicago Park District, CPS will have more than 250 “contingency sites” where children can spend the day if they don’t have anywhere else to go.

But CPS is encouraging families who have other options to use them since there aren’t enough contingency sites to handle all 300,000-plus students.

The Chicago Transit Authority will offer free transportation for students. A list of locations will be available Tuesday.

That’s three Fridays in a row kids will have off?

It is. CPS had long scheduled April 8 as a teacher training day, when students wouldn’t report to class.

Then, while the teachers union was discussing the possibility of an April 1 walkout, CPS announced it would have three unpaid furlough days, the first of them on Good Friday, when school officials said thousands of teachers and students already had asked to take the day off.

Will charter schools be open?

Yes, the 130-some CPS-funded charter schools — which don’t employ CTU members — will be open as usual.

Why is the CTU walking out?

Initially, it was because CPS threatened to take away a 7 percent pension benefit. Now, the CTU says the aim is to put on a show of strength to the General Assembly and the governor who need to come up with more funding for schools.

What happens next?

All teachers are to return to school after the one-day walkout.

Any CTU member who stayed home without proof of illness or other emergency might not get paid for that day, according to CPS, which contends the strike isn’t legal. The CTU disagrees. Neither the school district nor the union has the authority to decide the legality, so the matter could end up going before an appointed state board.

Are the two sides close to a contract?

Both the district and union say they believe they can work out a deal. Meanwhile, bargaining continues with the aid of a fact-finder who will make his recommendations known in a few weeks. If accepted by both sides, his proposal becomes the new contract. If rejected, the CTU can strike as of the middle of May.