As Chicago Public Schools classes were canceled for the sixth consecutive day during a strike by teachers and support staff, Mayor Lori Lightfoot vowed that the city would not bail out the school system to secure a teachers contract.
Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board after her first budget address, the mayor showed no signs of caving to end the work stoppage that put 300,000 students out of class and led to tens of thousands of striking Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU Local 73 members shutting down the Loop during her first budget address to City Council Wednesday.
“What we’ve been very clear about, is they’ve got to live within their means, whatever those means are and they can’t exceed that, and look to the city to bail them out,” Lightfoot said. “And I think that message has been delivered loud and clear to [CPS CEO] Dr. [Janice] Jackson and her team and we also need the CTU to hear the same thing: There is not an unlimited pot of money to fund everything they want.”
The union’s requests, including staffing guarantees and smaller class sizes, have been estimated to cost $2.4 billion over three years.
Based on the district’s current offer on the table, about $500 million per year would be added to the district’s costs by the end of a potential five-year deal in 2024. The start of the agreement would be cheaper, but ramped-up staffing over time would make it more expensive. The current CTU contract costs $2.6 billion annually.