Chicago Public Schools teleconference with parents

Chicago teachers rally. Photo used by permission from the Chicago Teachers Union 1 Flickr stream.

Chicago teachers rally. Photo used by permission from the Chicago Teachers Union 1 Flickr stream. Photo: Chicago Teachers Union 1

Chicago Public Schools held a conference call with parents to talk about the looming teacher strike, and contingency plans for parents. Our live blog of it is below, but the Cliffs Notes are that 144 contingency sites will be open to children, and parents can find info about these sites, as well as which site their child would attend, at CPS's official site. Brizard emphasized that the contingency sites would not provide instruction, only "breakfast, lunch and a few constructive activities." That makes it sound like The Breakfast Club to me.

Live blog is below:

  • Brizard says they're hopeful and optimistic that they will reach a resolution before the strike. I wouldn't see his tone exactly conveys "certainty."

  • Brizard answers the first question, directing a listener to check out the contingency info site, "Children First."

  • Second question asks how the district can fund children first, but not for a teacher's raise. "We've been very clear from day one that the teachers will get a raise, but it has to be within the confines of our budget. The $25 million allocated for chldren first, we hope we don't have to use it. That money comes from the district, so something will have to go away if we have to use it. We have offered a raise, we will offer a raise."

  • Brizard says the CPS head of secruity been working with the Chicago Police Department, to ensure people working in the contingency sites are background checked. Many of the people are already employees who have been working at schools, and who have been investigated and fingerprinted.

  • Brizard says the district is working on a waiver for students in athletic programs to keep practicing and playing.

  • Children who attend one of the Children First contingency sites will not have the dates counted toward attendance records.

  • One parent asked whether there would be computers available for students, and Brizard said for high school seniors, the district is hoping to offer online programs. Some computer access, especially for high school seniors.

  • Brizard says robocalls, print and other media will let people know if a strike happens.

  • Parents can go to to find the nearest contingency site.

  • Brizard keeps saying the site is It's not, it's

  • The district won't provide transportation, but will offer aid to homeless children and others in serious need.

  • A retired teacher asks how she can help, Brizard wisely says, "We're not looking to replace the wonderful teachers" of the district.

  • What will happen to parents who pay for preschool, will they be reimbursed? Brizard says whatever days are missed, those days will be made up. The number of days will be the same.

  • Charter schools and contracted IED programs will not be affected by the strike, because those teachers are not members of CTU.

  • Most Head Start programs will not be affected, as those programs are run by the Department of Children and Family Services.

  • High school seniors will be offered online courses to continue their education, but won't have access to guidance counselors to help with college applications, as counselors are union.

  • Brizard says they're down to a "handful of issues" and that he's very optimistic that they'll dodge a strike.

  • Nurses at the continency sites will be contract, not union.

  • Will children have to cross a picket line? Brizard says they will work to ensure safety of children attending the contingency sites, and that it's his belief teachers would not discourage kids from coming to get breakfast and lunch. 

  • Nice chuckle provided by the parent whose child in a gifted, classical program wanted a comparable program offered during the strike.

  • I received a tweet from a parent who thought the questions sounded pre-scripted. I have to admit a lot of them did, though there were enough repeats to make me think that wasn't the case. I chimed in for a question about halfway through, but it was never taken.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)