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Chicago Teachers, School Board Reach Agreement on Contract

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After an all-night negotiating session, the Chicago Teachers Union and the board of education reached agreement last week on a new contract that narrowly averted a strike in the nation's thirdlargest school system.

The tentative agreement, which union members will vote on Dec. 3, would give teachers raises of 3 percent this year, effective on Dec. 2. They would not receive the money until February, however, meaning that the increase would amount to about 2 percent when spread out over the entire school year.

Next year, teachers would be guaranteed 7 percent raises.

"This is not something that we can say is a great victory," said Jackie Gallagher, a spokesman for the c.T.U. "It's a very minimal raise, but it's better than a sharp stick in the eye."

It was unclear where the bulk of the $118 million needed to pay for the two-year agreement would be found. The school system had earlier projected a $178-million deficit for next year.

Negotiators for the teachers succeeded in removing language that would have allowed the board to renegotiate the raises in the face of a financial shortfall, as it was forced to do this year.

Mayor Richard M. Daley, who mediated the final talks, pledged $8.5 million from the refinancing of some city bonds to help pay for this year's raises, which are estimated to cost $18 million.

The balance of the money will have to come from further cuts in the district's budget. The board already has slashed its budget to pare a $315-million deficit. (See Education Week, Sept. 18, 1991 .)

In making a new roand of cuts, the board of education will be hamstrung by the agreements it reached earlier this fall with its 19 other labor unions, which guarantoed that workers would not be laid off, in exchange for concessions on salary increases this year.

Linda Matsumoto, the spokesman for the board, said the state legislators called in by the Mayor to attend the talks gave the board negotiators "assurances of some kind of financial assistance, or at least political support in which to enact financial assistance" f@om the stato.

Efforts by the Mayor and school negotiators to persuade the School Finance Authority to free some of the district's reserve money to pay for the contract were unsuccessful. --A.B.

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