Education

Chicago Public Schools Plan To Spend $50 Million So Older Teachers Can Retire

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Ted Goodman Reporter

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) may spend up to $50 million in order to compel some of its most senior teachers to retire at the end of the school year, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The proposal will only occur if at least 1,500 teachers agree to accept a one-time bonus of $1,500 for every year they have worked. The teachers targeted for the buyout arrangement have worked for CPS an average of 22 years — most teachers would earn a $33,000 bonus.

The bonus offer was part of the contract negotiated between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), which was passed just in time to avoid a strike. The October strike would have kept nearly 400,000 students home and out of Chicago’s 660 public schools.

Currently, 22,000 teachers are employed at Chicago schools, according to union internal figures. Last year, the school district offered a similar bonus package to 500 older teachers, and this year, the district is being much more ambitious, hoping to entice 1,500 teachers to retire, according to the Sun-Times report.

Classroom aides can also take advantage of a buyout arrangement, and are eligible to collect $750 per year of service, if at least 600 aides who have worked for 10 years choose to retire.

The teachers and the administration agreed to a new contract after marathon talks on Oct. 10. The teachers did not have a working contract since June 30, 2015, and were prepared to strike the very next morning if no agreement was reached. (RELATED: Mayor Rahm Emanuel Dodges Third Teachers Strike Under His Tenure).

The new agreement will phase out the historic practice of contributing to teachers’ pensions. Under the tentative agreement, teachers who are CTU members hired before Dec. 31, 2016 will keep the pension “pickup,” but new hires will be required to contribute 9.4 percent of their salaries to their retirement accounts. To make up for the phased out “pension pickup,” teachers hired after Dec. 31, 2016, will receive two 3.5 percent wage increases in 2017, according to Marketwatch.

The teachers and the school board averted the strike, which would have been the third under Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The union went on strike for ten days in 2012, and then picketed for one day earlier this year over budget cuts.

Teachers and staff who accept the bonus offer would retire at the end of the current school year, June 2017, and must submit their notice by March 31, 2017. If at least 1,500 teachers do not take up the bonus offer, the offer goes away, and any teacher or staff member who planned to retire can rescind.

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