Chicago Public Schools released its list on Tuesday of more than 250 schools, parks and libraries where students can spend April 1 while their teachers are on a one-day strike.
Parents can enter their home address at www.cps.edu/april1 to find the closest site. All schools open for children, thanks to help from central CPS staffers, also can be found there. Kids will be fed breakfast and lunch, and the Chicago Transit Authority is offering free transportation for students that day.
CPS is asking — but not requiring — families to register their children ahead of time, which they can also do by calling 311.
Schools and park district sites will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; library sites from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. All programs are free for kids already enrolled in CPS, but CPS is asking families with other options to take those instead since the contingency sites don’t have capacity for the more than 300,000 affected students.
CPS has yet to say how much their plans will cost, though they’ve said recently that withholding pay from all teachers for a day would save $10 million.
On Friday, the Chicago Teachers Union is picketing schools all morning, joining in protest activities with workers from other unions, culminating in a rally downtown at the Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph. The union, which continues to haggle over a contract with the school district, says its actions Friday are necessary to force better funding for schools from the state.
CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has welcomed members of the CTU to work as usual Friday — even to bring their own children with them if need be — and they will be paid for the day. That’s no small offer for teachers, who just had an unpaid March 25 furlough day imposed on them and will lose two more days’ pay for furloughs by the end of the school year.
However, the CTU could fine those members that pay if they’re determined to be “strike breakers” or suspend their union membership.
Claypool contends that the “wildcat strike” is not legal since it’s separate from ongoing contract talks, but has yet to take any legal action with the state-appointed Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board or in court.
We are looking at all options,” he repeated Monday evening on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight. “I would say in a handful of days, the likelihood of getting a court to issue an injunction is small given how the courts work. It does not mean there won’t be consequences for the action, but again, our first priority has to be making sure that on Friday our kids are safe, they’re well fed and they’re as engaged as best we can.”
He would not say whether teachers who picket could be punished.
“The only thing I know for sure is they will not be paid,” he continued. “This is unprecedented.”
Claypool also said Friday’s actions aren’t the way to move deadlocked state leaders.
“I don’t think a strike, inconveniencing parents and taking a day of instruction away from our children is a way to get Springfield to act,” he said. “You get Springfield to act by joining with us hand in hand to go down there and demand the legislature once and for all fix a funding formula.”