What’s on the Table: The Independent Arbitrator’s Contract Recommendation
BUDGET, SCHOOLS | October 5, 2016
What’s on the Table: The Independent Arbitrator’s Contract Recommendation

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CPS teachers do great work – guiding our students’ remarkable academic gains – and we want to give them the most generous contract we can afford within our financial constraints.  This is why we’ve paired an average raise of 14.15 percent over the life of the contract with the historic changes to quality-of-life issues that CTU has prioritized for years.  

This framework led us to an agreement with CTU leadership once, and we believe by continuing our open dialogue – where new ideas have been welcomed and evaluated by both sides – a strike can be avoided and we can reach final agreement.

CPS remains at the bargaining table, where we’re committed to preventing interruptions to a school year that’s off to a very strong start.


At the bargaining table last year, CPS and CTU leadership hammered out a deal that covers two major parts: 1) Economic Impacts and 2) Non-Economic Impacts, with significant gains in quality of life issues for teachers.  The contract would last for four years – through July 2019 – providing much needed stability to all members of the CPS community.

In April, the independent Fact Finder reviewed proposals from CPS and CTU leadership, and recommended a contract that reflected the January 29 deal.

This framework is still on the table, and CPS remains open to ideas from CTU leadership to make it work better for both parties.

Bottom Line


That deal gave teachers an average raise of 14.15 percent over the life of the contract, including “steps” (an increase for time of service) and “lanes” (an increase for education attainment).

This raise more than offsets the gradual benefit changes, including health care and the pension pickup, in which the District makes both the employer pension contribution and the bulk of the employee pension contribution.  


Health Care

CTU members have not seen an increase in their health care costs in more than 12 years – and the District has offered to continue to provide health care benefits at steep discounts to actual market costs. In line with national trends, district health care costs on behalf of employees are expected to increase by approximately 6 percent annually for the duration of the contract. In contrast, CPS is asking that all employees, including teachers, to cover an additional 1.5 percent over the next 2 years.

Under the proposal CPS and CTU leadership negotiated and the Fact Finder recommended, this change would be phased in over two years, first at an additional 0.8 percent and then an additional 0.7 percent, depending upon what plan teachers choose. The current maximum premium for CTU members is $210 a month.  

In other words, even as the District’s health care costs are increasing at a rate of 6 percent a year, this phased-in increase of 1.5 percent continues to give CTU a steep discount to actual costs.


Throughout contract negotiations, quality of life issues have been at the forefront of discussions.  As CTU attorneys stated before the independent Fact-Finder, the non-economic impacts were “breakthroughs – in improving the educational environment for teachers and students and seeking long-term solutions to chronically underfunded public education.”  CPS has offered CTU leadership significant gains in non-economic impacts from quality-of-life issues like reduced paperwork and decreased teacher evaluations, to  joint agreement on educational policy  priorities like investing in community schools, charter expansion and special education case management.

Community Schools

  • A joint committee made up equally of Board and CTU appointees will designate 20 to 55 schools as community schools and partner with the community to implement.  Community schools are centers of the community and safe places for students and community members. Ancillary services are typically provided before and after-school such as after-school programming, additional counseling, social work and psych services, as well as medical clinics, and athletic programs.

Charter Schools

  • There will be no net increase in charter schools, and charter enrollment at the end of each contract will not exceed 101 percent of current capacity.

School Closings

  • No under-enrollment school closings until at least FY18 and 19.
  • A process will be created for community participation in planning any under-enrollment closures.


  • Going forward, District and State required assessments will be unaffected and additional assessments will be determined by local collaboration, with disputes resolved in bargaining.

Teacher Quality of Life Issues


  • CPS recognizes that grading is a matter of teacher and principal expertise, though the standards should be uniform with teachers grading and informing students regularly.  Together, we will establish a forum for collaboration to develop the correct standards for the District.
  • The District will set the GPA, numeric values and grade change rules, but a joint taskforce will develop the standards.

Self-directed Time

  • Recognizing that teachers would like additional days to prepare or participate in professional development, three professional development days will become self-directed to create flexibility.
  • Special education teachers will get prep time every other week to work with clinical teams.

Instructional Plans

  • To reduce paperwork, as well as unnecessary bureaucracy for teachers, going forward either a lesson or unit plans will be required – not both.
  • Teachers will be able to control the form of the lesson or plan, and the school will control the content. It will be derived from the REACH framework.


  • The Board will eliminate up to 30 duplicative and unnecessary items of paperwork.
  • A Professional Problems Committee (PPC) will address concerns, including paperwork, within units/networks.

Teacher Evaluation

Performance Standards

  • The Board performance standards will be maintained, but the two consecutive developing rule will be modified.  The current rule makes teachers who were rated “needs improvement” two consecutive years without improvement “unsatisfactory.”  The new rule states that tenured teachers rated in the lower half of “needs improvement” for two years are “unsatisfactory” unless they achieve proficiency on practice scores.


  • Teacher observations will be reduced from four to three, and in some cases down to two, alleviating some of the extra work and stress that teachers and administrators experience from the current number of observations.

Student Growth

  • School wide value-add measures will be eliminated as a student growth measure in teacher evaluations.  Teachers will no longer be evaluated based on how the school performed; instead they will be evaluated on how their students performed.


  • Teachers will be given greater appeal rights by expanding them to those who suffer adverse action.

Legislative Initiatives

Pension Levy

  • CPS will draft, find a sponsor for, and support an agreed bill to restore CTPF property tax, but outside of PTELL tax caps (CPS did this already without an agreement).

Charter School Commission

  • CPS will work on “mutually agreeable legislation” to alter or revise the Illinois Charter School Commission.

Progressive Taxes

  • CPS will identify and support mutually agreeable sustainable progressive state tax.