With 80% of schools reporting, 81% of Chicago teachers voted to accept an agreement with Chicago Public Schools, their union announced Friday.
The tentative agreement includes “mandatory class size caps and enforcement, language forcing CPS to comply with special education laws and regulations, sanctuary school protections for immigrant and refugee students, and support for thousands of homeless students.”
The vote on the agreement comes after an 11-day strike in October. The new contract will also include a nurse and a social worker in every school every day, as well as add more librarians.
Students finally went back to school on Nov. 1, CNN reported, after reaching an agreement that will cost millions of dollars to implement. It will cost $35 million a year to reduce overcrowded classrooms and $2.5 million in recruitment and training.
Maria Moreno, the union’s financial secretary, told CNN the agreement is a “tremendous victory for our students in the public schools. We are finally going to start to see the beginnings of improvements of what these kids deserve.”
Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey told CNN that some of the changes will happen right away while others will take time to implement. Smaller class sizes will happen in the second semester.
The specific terms of the agreement include 209 more social worker positions and 250 more nursing positions, with at least one in every school.
The students will have to make up the missed days from the strike. Five total days will be added to the school calendar, though teachers wanted 10 days added back. At first, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she would not add days to the calendar, but then reversed her decision.
“This has been a very hard and difficult journey,” Lightfoot said.
The journey is not over yet. The contract still has to get final approval from the Chicago Board of Education. The board is scheduled to meet on Wednesday.