An Offer that Honors our Teachers’ Hard Work and Dedication.
DISTRICT | September 30, 2019
An Offer that Honors our Teachers’ Hard Work and Dedication.

UPDATE  – October 29, 2019 – Please review our latest offer (PDF) to the Chicago Teachers Union. 

The district has been negotiating in good faith with the two unions that represent the majority of our employees, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and SEIU Local 73 (SEIU) to present offers  that are fair, honor teachers and staff, and recognize their contribution to the historic academic progress we have made in the past decade. Two independent factfinders concluded that our offers are fair and in the best interest of CPS, employees, and Chicago families.  

The district has made more than 80 updates to the proposed contract based on requests from the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU).  These include protecting counselor time and funding talent development programs to help paraprofessionals become certified teachers. The district will continue to work around the clock to reach an agreement that will allow classes to resume. Our current offer to CTU now includes the following: 

Below is a summary of our comprehensive counteroffer:

  • Generous Compensation: Our staff deserve to be compensated well for their exceptional service, and we are offering the most generous compensation proposals in the district’s history. Under our proposal, teachers and support staff will benefit from a 16 percent across-the-board raise, and key support staff members, including clerks, teacher assistants, special education classroom assistants (SECAs), nurses, and other paraprofessionals, will receive even larger raises through a  restructured pay scale. By the end of our contract, the average teacher’s salary will rise to nearly $100,000.
  • Staffing Commitments Aligned to District’s Vision for Equity:
    • Full-time Nurse and Social Worker for Every School, Every Day: Provide this critical support staff for every school, every day, beginning with our highest need schools. 
    • Bilingual and Special Education Staffing Supports: Increase staffing levels in bilingual and special education to support English Learner and diverse learner student populations.
    • Additional Staff for Highest Need Schools: Commit to staff a librarian, restorative justice coordinator, or other position of the school’s choice at high-need schools.
  • Addressing Class Sizes:
    • Our offer provides a significant investment that will lower class sizes in high need schools. Our offer, grounded in equity, recognizes that additional resources should be prioritized for the schools that need the most support.
    • Adds hundreds of teacher assistants to support overcrowded classrooms in grades K-3 at all schools.
  • Supporting Students Who Are Experiencing Homelessness
    • Full-time liaisons in highest-needs schools dedicated to coordinating services for students and families in temporary living situations.
  • Sanctuary Schools: Establish far-reaching sanctuary school protections for immigrant and refugee teachers and families that reaffirm the commitments CPS has made to protect our families and staff.
  • Teacher Prep: In response to feedback from educators, the district has modified its prep time proposals to maintain the current prep time arrangement.

An Overview of Our Full and Comprehensive Offer

Compensation – A Historic Raise for Teachers and Staff 

Our staff deserves to be compensated well for their exceptional service, and we are offering the most generous compensation proposals in the district’s history. Under our proposal, teachers and support staff will benefit from a 16 percent across-the-board raise, and key support staff members, including clerks, teacher assistants, special education classroom assistants (SECAs), nurses, and other paraprofessionals, will receive even larger raises through a  restructured pay scale. By the end of our contract, the average CPS teacher will make nearly $100,000 a year.

We know our teachers chose their life’s work for more than money, but we firmly believe that our teachers should be generously compensated for the hard work they do to support the children of Chicago. 

For example, after factoring scheduled salary increases based on years of service, a second-year teacher will see their salary rise from $53,000 in 2019 to more than $72,000 in the final year of the agreement, which is equivalent to a 35% pay raise.

This raise would cement CPS teachers as some of the best paid in the country. We are very proud to honor the work and dedication of our educators.   Under our offer, a new teacher starting in CPS next year would earn nearly $55,000, and the average teacher would see their salary rise to nearly $100,000 by 2024.   Our teachers on average are better compensated than their peers in LA, Dallas, Houston, Austin, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Phoenix, and a handful of other cities. We believe teachers should be properly compensated for their work and dedication and we’re proud to be a national leader when it comes to teacher compensation.

Health Insurance – Holding Costs Down for the Same Great Care

The district’s health insurance and health expenditures are expected to grow around six percent a year in coming years. Yet under our offer, costs to teachers and staff would remain completely flat for three years and greatly reduces or eliminate co-pays and co-insurance for mental health services and physical therapy with just a .75% contribution increase in the final three years of the contract. This means CPS would shoulder more and more of the burden while our employees’ share stays nearly the same. Deductibles, co-pays, and similar charges would not change for the entire five-year term of the contract. 

This is a significant benefit for CPS teachers and staff. CPS is proud of the great healthcare and benefits it provides its employees. Under this offer, teachers will continue to enjoy these benefits for five years at about the same rate they are paying now.

PSRPs – Significant Raises for Crucial Support Staff 

We heard our critical support staff’s concerns that their compensation did not fully reflect the value they added to their school communities. We agreed that we could do more, and we have. 

Our new offer gives significant pay raises for our clerks, teacher assistants, nurses, and other individuals who are crucial to the success of schools. This offer is historic it restructures CPS’s paraprofessional pay scale for the first time ever and raises pay for this group. Our revised offer recognizes the value of these employees and brings their pay up significantly.   

Under our proposal, the average raise is more than 8% for all paraprofessional and school-related personnel (PSRPs) in just this school year. Further reflecting our commitment to supporting all employees in their professional growth, our proposal includes the creation of salary “lanes” for PSRPs who have earned an associates and/or bachelor’s degree. In doing this, we accepted CTU’s proposal to add lanes, and then made it even more generous.  

  • Health service nurses (HSNs) will see an average 14% increase in pay immediately in their paychecks under this agreement.
  • School clerks will see an 8% increase on average immediately, with up to 12% depending on whether they have an associate degree or not. 
  • Teacher assistants (TAs) will receive a 9% increase on average immediately.

 Staffing – Investments in Support Staff & Commitment to Non-Privatization 

CPS is fully committed to providing district students with the resources and supports they need to be successful, and the district has committed to a significant staffing expansion to provide additional clinicians to our highest-need schools. We are aligned with CTU and its members in this vision. 

Guarantee, in writing, that CPS will hire hundreds of additional nurses, social workers, and case managers, providing additional support to high needs schools. This builds on our unprecedented commitment from this summer to improve staffing in our schools, which has already been incorporated into next year’s CPS budget.

Earlier this summer, following meetings with teachers, principals, parents and community members, Mayor Lightfoot and CPS leadership announced a plan that will provide more crucial support staff to our highest-needs schools. We committed to the following:

  • To meet the needs of both special education and general education students, CPS will add at least 200 more school social worker positions to CPS schools over the next five years.  
  • CPS will add at least 250 additional full-time nurse positions over the next five years, so every CPS school has access to full-time, stable nursing services. At the same time, CPS will cut its reliance on contract nurses in half so that contractors are only used in supplemental and substitute roles. Under our commitment, CPS will have a full-time nurse in every school by 2024.
  • Over the next three years, CPS will increase the number of special education case manager positions at schools with relatively high numbers of diverse learners. By the 2021-2022 school year, schools with 240 or more students with IEPs (Individualized Education Program) will have at least 2 full-time case managers; schools with more than 120 students with IEPs will have at least one full-time case manager; and schools with more than 50 students with IEPs will have at least one part-time case manager.

Ninety-five of these positions have been opened as part of our FY20 budget, and we will continue to invest in the coming years as we work to develop a candidate pool for these important roles. Our schools opened this year with nearly 100 more social workers than last year (a 29% increase), and more than 50 additional nurses (a 20% increase). 

The following chart highlights our commitment to doubling the number of social workers under the plan outlined by Mayor Lightfoot and CPS leadership:

Under the commitment we’ve made, by 2024, the ratio of students to social workers will be between 400:1 and 450:1. (By comparison, the national average was over 2,000:1 according to U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights).

Would these be full-time unionized positions? 

Yes. Crucially, under our new offer, none of these positions would be privatized. Our offer includes an ironclad anti-privatization guarantee. All employees hired to fill these roles would become full-time employees and CTU members. Under our proposal, CPS will not contract out or otherwise privatize a host of positions, phase out the use of contract nurses, and limit the use of contract nurses to short-term substitute or supplemental nursing needs. 

If CPS and Mayor Lightfoot agree that these investments are necessary, why won’t we agree to “put it in the contract”? 

This is a fair question and we agree that these support positions are integral to the success of our schools.

However, social workers, nurses, counselors, and other similar positions are hard to hire. The candidate pool is limited, and hiring is competitive. The offer that CTU presented on September 5 called for CPS to hire more than 1,000 new employees by October 1, 2019, across several hard-to-find specialties. The proposal also calls for hiring approximately 3,000 more employees over the next two years at a cost of more than $800 million. Even if CPS could realistically afford such a commitment, it would be nearly impossible to meet those hiring goals. We will continue to work in partnership with CTU to ensure that we fulfill our promises, and make commitments that we know we can keep. 

Second, setting strict limits in the contract for the number of support professionals the district must keep on staff limits our schools’ ability to best support their student population. We serve a diverse city with a varied set of needs. Schools in higher need neighborhoods may need multiple social workers and other support staff while other schools may need less. Staffing limits set by the collective bargaining agreement would require principals to dedicate large portions of their budgets to hiring staff as mandated by the contract, not by the needs and desires of the local community or school. 

Third, opening hundreds of new nursing, social worker, librarian, and other positions all over the city in a short time period — which is what CTU is demanding — could have negative unintended consequences. In the past, new postings in areas of the city less challenged by poverty and crime have tended to pull teachers and staff from schools in high need areas. This may exacerbate the very inequities we all seek to address, creating even more vacancies in the highest-needs schools. Instead, CPS needs to be deliberate and strategic in expanding staffing in partnership with CTU, not driven by deadlines and quotas in the collective bargaining agreement. 

For these reasons and others, collective bargaining agreements have traditionally determined the wages, benefits, and working conditions of employees who work at an employer; they have not determined which or how many new employees need to be hired. CPS needs the flexibility to tackle the complex problems of trauma and violence in our schools through additional supportive staffing.

But instead of focusing on where we disagree, we hope to build a strong partnership with CTU and its members that will enable CPS and the Mayor deliver on our commitments to build a pipeline for recruiting, developing, and retaining professionals in these positions.  

Class Size – Increase Funding to Address Overcrowded Classrooms

While we have made significant progress to end overcrowding in the vast majority of schools across the city, we are committed to alleviating overcrowded classrooms.  

The CTU collective bargaining agreement already covers class size. (Article 28). It stipulates the following maximum class sizes:

  • 28 for kindergarten and primary students. 83.4% of kindergarten-3rd-grade homerooms are already at or below this level.
  • 31 for intermediate and upper-grade students. 88.9% of 4th-8th-grade homerooms are already at or below this level.

The average elementary class size at CPS was 25.2 in 2018-2019. The collective bargaining agreement currently includes a process to address overcrowded classrooms. Under the agreement with CTU,  a class size monitoring panel with CTU members works with schools to resolve issues around class size. Today, kindergarten through second-grade classrooms with 32 or more students are assigned an additional teacher assistant or instructor assistant. The current contract funds $6 million per year for these extra positions, and an additional $1 million for other means to reduce class sizes. 

Under our new offer, CPS would expand this successful program to third-grade classrooms. Under our offer, 200 teacher assistants would be staffed to overcrowded classrooms at a total cost of approximately $10 million per year. Further, consistent with state law, our new offer promises to maintain all preschool classrooms at a 10:1 child-to-teacher ratio at all times.

Sanctuary Schools – Ironclad Protections for Students and Teachers

For the first time, the CTU contract will include language that affirms our comprehensive policy around sanctuary schools and sanctuary employer protections for immigrant and refugee teachers, students and their families. As a city, we believe protecting immigrant and refugee communities is a moral imperative and we are proud to be the first school district in the country to issue sanctuary schools guidance, and prohibits ICE agents on school grounds without a criminal warrant. 

Teacher Preparation Periods and Professional Development

We know how important preparation periods are for teachers to plan, grade, and accomplish a myriad of other tasks. CPS proposed increasing principal-directed time to provide additional principal-directed opportunities for staff development, teacher collaboration, department meetings, grade level team meetings, and other professional preparation activities including teacher leadership opportunities. Research shows that students succeed when teachers collaborate, and our proposal seeks to foster greater collaboration to ultimately benefit students.

However, we heard teachers objected to this change, and our new offer protects current teacher prep time and instructional time for students. For elementary school teachers, the current offer proposes only increasing principal-directed prep time by one period per week. Elementary teachers would maintain self-directed preps at least three out of the five days a week. This would provide balance for teacher-directed time and for staff collaboration and development.

In addition, the new offer includes new investments in professional development opportunities for teachers and staff. These include: 

  • Additional commitments to help PSRPs and others become teachers;
  • New programs to help nurses attain higher certifications; and
  • New, free online professional development classes.

Special Education – Continuing our Commitment 

Under Dr. Jackson’s leadership, the district is driving reform efforts that support student achievement.  This commitment to improvement applies equally in the area of special education as the District works hard to address past problems and move forward in collaboration with teachers, parents, students, and other stakeholders. In order to best support CPS’s diverse learners, we know that the district must support the teachers and support staff that serve our students with special education needs.

CPS’s new offer confirms and codifies the district’s commitment to the co-teaching model, ensuring that our classrooms are inclusive and that our diverse learners have access to general education classrooms, along with their peers.  

We know when teachers share and collaborate, students are well served. So the proposal makes clear that special education teachers will have access to all necessary information about their students and co-teaching partners have common prep time, whenever possible.

Additionally, our proposal states that principals should, in an educationally sound and feasible way, distribute work equitably among special education teachers and limit the subjects in which they teach so they can best focus on each child they serve.  

CPS’s proposal will make sure that special education teachers are made aware of the funds that have been allocated in their school’s budget to ensure all student individualized education programs (IEPs) are supported. The proposal commits principals to work collaboratively with teachers to identify which resources and materials will best serve the needs of the students.  

Staffing is critical in the area of special education, and CPS’s proposal provides the CTU with information on the process used to allocate positions, as well as the mechanism for appealing those staffing decisions. The proposal would enable the CTU to provide input into these important staffing procedures.

Finally, CPS’s proposal reconfirms the district’s commitment to honoring the collaborative process of special education teams so that these teams can make the best decisions to support students.  

 SEIU Members – How our Offer Supports SECAs, Custodians, Security Officers, and Bus Aides 

The employees represented by SEIU Local 73 include special education classroom assistants (SECAs), custodians, security officers, and bus aides. These employees are crucial to the functioning of our schools. 

SEIU members told us that they needed pay raises and improvements in their working conditions, and we listened. Our offer to SEIU not only includes the same 16% raise and insurance benefits as CTU—it goes even further. We’re restoring benefits, adding additional pay, and making other improvements for SEIUmembers. Our offer is consistent with the recommendations of the respected, independent factfinder, who the union agreed to appoint. In summary, this deal includes: 

Salary and Insurance:

  • 16% salary increases over 5 years for all employees—the same as what we have offered CTU.
  • The same insurance changes that we have offered CTU.

Bus Aides:

  • Introducing new longevity pay to reward aides for their years of service. 
  • New daily stipend for aides who board their buses or are dropped off outside the city.
  • Restores benefit days to 10 sick and 3 personal days per year. (Aides currently receive 7 general use days.)
  • Improved work scheduling procedures.


  • Additional raises for custodians. (Up to 7.2% increases retroactive for 2018.)
  • Doubles the amount of longevity pay.
  • A more generous vacation accrual policy.
  • New voluntary transfer policy allows employees to bid and transfer to preferred assignments.


  • Increases the number of steps in the salary schedule for SECAs from 8 to 10, resulting in more pay. Under our offer, some SECAs would see raises of up to 15% this year.
  • Restructures the step schedule to accelerate progression through the schedule, meaning SECAs earn more faster.
  • Gives more pay to SECAs with a bachelor’s degree, effective July 1, 2021.
  • As SECAs are a key part of the team providing education to diverse learners, our offer now provides that SECAs may attend IEP meetings. Previously, SECAs had no contractual right to attend those meetings.
  • New enforceable restrictions on duties that may be assigned.

Security Officers:

  • Ensures meetings with principals to discuss safety concerns.
  • Improvements in the process for building assignments with staggered shifts.

 Other Benefits:

  • Limits the length of time employees can be suspended and gives new rights for employees to challenge discipline.
  • Allows up to 40 days of sick leave to be rolled over and used as sick days, for FMLA leave, or to supplement short term disability payments.
  • Employees may use general use day or personal/vacation day to attend a graduation, for illness or emergency on black-out days.

Our Offers – Read Them For Yourself  

CPS is proud of the collective bargaining agreements that have governed the relationship between the Board and its employees. Much about the agreements is staying the same this time, and for good reason: the agreements give strong protections for employees and contain provisions that make our schools better.  You can read a copy of the previous CTU and SEIU Local 73 collective bargaining agreement here:  

We are also proud of the new offer we presented to CTU on Friday. The offers to CTU and SEIU contain a host of other improvements, employee rights, and items requested by the unions. We invite you to read the offers yourself, which only shows portions of the collective bargaining agreements that we propose to strengthen. It’s available for you to read here.  

Our Offer to CTU – Updated 10/11
Our Offer to SEIU

Read More

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

What other investments is CPS making in schools this year?

To continue the record-setting academic progress Chicago schools have made in recent years, CPS proposed an FY20 budget focused on equity. It includes critical capital investments for more than 300 schools across the city, as well as a significant expansion of school programming. The proposed FY20 budget includes an additional $73 million in classroom spending over last school year and is designed to accelerate learning opportunities in every school across the city by prioritizing equitable access to high-quality facilities and programmatic investments in high-need communities. Key budget investments include:

  • Critical building improvements for more than 300 schools across the city, with 93% of the $619 million in guaranteed capital funding going to schools that serve majority low-income students;
  • Largest-ever capital investment in pre-k classrooms ($120 million);
  • Largest-ever expansion of high-quality academic programs, including STEM, IB and Fine and Performing Arts;
  • $10.5 million for ADA accessibility;
  • $10 million for nurse, social worker and case manager positions, and funds for recruitment and pipeline development; and
  • $12 million to support English Learners at more than 100 schools.

To ensure these goals are accessible to all children, we have created a five-year vision focused heavily on improving equity in our schools. We will be looking to, our talented and dynamic teachers to help make that vision a reality, and we are committed to providing them with the supports and resources they need to do their best work. 

In recent months, we announced our first-ever Curriculum Equity Initiative to ensure every teacher has access to a high-quality, culturally-relevant curriculum. In close collaboration with our educators, we plan to release the curriculum in several phases beginning in the spring of 2020.

What are the district’s priorities in these negotiations?

CPS’ top priority in these negotiations is to reach an agreement that rewards Chicago’s dedicated educators for their service, allows CPS to continue its record-setting academic progress, and protects the best interests of Chicago families and taxpayers. We are committed to working in good faith to reach a fair agreement as soon as possible so our teachers, school leaders, students, and families can put their full focus on a successful school year.

What about a moratorium on charter expansion? There will be a net-zero increase in the number of charters and limit on any increases in student enrollment to 101% of current capacity.

Why can’t CPS use the new money from the state?

The vast majority of that money has been used to fund the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and the rest has been used to support universal Pre-K and other district initiatives. Here is a full breakdown.

What will the district do to support Students in Temporary Living Situations (STLS)?

The district will fund full-time liaisons in high-need schools dedicated to coordinating services for students and families in temporary living situations.

Where can I find a timeline of recent events?

Here is a timeline (10/12/19) of recent labor negotiation developments.

What happens next? 

CPS is fully committed to reaching a fair contract as soon as possible. We believe our offer provides a strong framework for a fair deal, and we will do everything in our power to reach a fair deal that will allow classes to resume.