CPS: 'So close' in teachers strike talks

Striking Chicago school teachers gather at the Hyatt Regency hotel on Wacker Drive before march down Michigan Avenue during the afternoon rush hour. ¿ E. Jason Wambsgans, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 13, 2012

Talks resumed Friday morning after a late night negotiating session failed to produce a deal in Chicago teacher contract negotiations.

“We still don’t have an agreement,” CTU president Karen Lewis said shortly before 1 a.m. Lewis did not talk to reporters when the two sides resumed talks shortly after 9 a.m. Friday.

CPS Board President David Vitale said they have "number crunching" still to do.

Chicago Public School chief education adviser, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, said the two sides are "so close" and appeared optimistic in a late morning news conference.

A House of Delegates meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday, with the two sides hoping to have a deal to bring to the table.

Talks began Thursday at about 9:30 a.m. and carried on until after midnight with no update offered to the media.

On Wednesday, both sides walked out of negotiations at the Hilton Chicago saying improvements were made. The talks wrapped up around midnight. Following that session, CPS Board of Education president David Vitale told reporters it was "a productive evening."

Wednesday’s talks centered once again on the teacher evaluation process. CPS Education Advisor Barbara Byrd-Bennett told the WGN Morning News that the evaluation system is “to make sure we have a very high standard, high calibrated standards that will keep the very best teachers in front of our children every day --and those teachers who need assistance, that we’re able to zero-in on what they need so we can improve their practice.”

Earlier Wednesday, the Chicago Board of Education released its last proposal given to the teachers union. In the document teacher evaluations are laid out by the school board. In one instance, the system labels teachers using scores: Unsatisfactory, developing, proficient or excellent. It doesn’t affect tenured teachers in the first year, but others would be tied to students test scores in some way, then receiving their own.

On Saturday, the CTU says they are setting the stage for a “Wisconsin-style” labor rally at noon in Union Park.