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Brizard memo to administrators outlines his plan to eliminate sick day carry over benefit

A day after he publicly announced that he was going to propose that the Chicago Board of Education eliminate the right of non-union CPS workers to accumulate sick days and cash them out upon retirement, Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard, without discussion among the affected employees (which includes all of the school system's local school administrators — principals and assistant principals) issued a memo to management level people explaining how he planned to eliminated accumulated sick days for them.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been behind every attack on Chicago's real public schools since he took office in May 2011 and appointed the current millionaire Board of Education and CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. Among the latest attacks on veteran public educators is the attempt by Emanuel's CPS administration and Board to take away sick day rights of all workers after a biased study was published in the Chicago Sun-Times. The Sun-Times is now owned by a group of millionaires who support Emanuel and his policies. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Brizard refused to return phone calls from Substance asking for an interview on February 15, the day CPS issued a press release, without details, stating that the Board of Eduction would consider the elimination of the right to accumulate sick days at its February 22, 2012 meeting. The agenda for the Board's meeting will be available on line and at the Board offices on Friday, February 17, 2012 and is expected to contain the actual working of Brizard's policy proposal. The policy will apply to "non-union" CPS workers who are eligible for cashing out their sick days. The majority of these are veteran principals and assistant principals.

CPS negotiators have already proposed that the right to accumulate sick days be eliminated for unionized workers, according to sources familiar with the current contract negotiations between CPS and the school system's eight unions (led by the Chicago Teachers Union).

Brizard's internal memo to administrators was issued on February 16, 2012. It follows below:

From: Internal Communications Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2012 1:19 PM

Subject: Sick Day Policy Revisions for Non-union CPS Employees

Dear Non-union CPS Employee:

Chicago Public Schools is revising its sick day policy for non-union employees, pending approval from the Board of Education at its monthly meeting on Feb. 22. The current sick day policy is an antiquated policy that fails to meet the needs of our employees, while also draining millions of dollars from the system each year. Moving forward, CPS is proposing a new sick day policy that will provide a fair plan focused on employee needs, thereby eliminating a policy that drains precious resources from the system that can instead be invested in our classrooms.

To be clear, under the new proposal, current employees will not lose any previously earned sick days under the current policy. Any days that have been earned to date cannot be taken away. Either they can be used or paid out upon departure, provided the conditions are met under the current policy. Please note that prospectively-earned or future-earned sick days will not be carried over. The new policy is outlined below:

Unused sick days will no longer be carried over: Under the current sick day policy, CPS allows employees to accrue up to 325 days of payouts, the equivalent of over 16 months, for unused sick days. These days can either be used or, with a minimum of 20 years of service, departing employees can be paid out at a rate of 85-100 percent, depending upon their length of service. With the new policy, employees will no longer carry over unused days for any future days earned. However, days earned and accrued, but unused, through June 30, 2012, will continue to be carried over. Additionally, sick days from other city agencies will no longer be eligible for carry-over into CPS. If approved, the new policy will go into effect immediately for those employees hired after the approval date. For existing employees, the new policy will go into effect on July 1, 2012.

New Short Term Disability benefit: Under the current policy, employees must “bank” sick days over time, and, in many cases, work through common illness in order to save enough days to cover the time needed for maternity leave, surgery or a future illness. Pending approval from the Board, CPS will move forward with developing a Short Term Disability policy that will be implemented and available for use beyond the annual allotment of sick days.

Common conditions covered include maternity leave and any time off work for medically necessary surgical procedures and recovery periods. It is CPS’s goal to create and implement a Short Term Disability plan that will provide salary coverage for employees for up to 90 days at a rate of 100 percent coverage for 1-30 days, 80 percent coverage for 31-60 days, and 60 percent coverage for 61-90 days. The details of this plan will be dependent upon the marketplace, and will ultimately require approval from the Board. This change will allow CPS, for the first time ever, to provide paid maternity leave to employees. Employees will no longer need to bank sick days and work through illness to save enough days to take the time they need for a more serious illness or surgery, or for a paid maternity leave – which, for newly hired full-time employees, is nearly impossible under the current policy.

Unused sick days will no longer be eligible for conversion to cash: Previously, those employees with a minimum of 20 years of service could “cash out” sick days at a value of one-for-one. Under the new policy, no future sick days earned will be eligible for carry-over or conversion to cash. However, days earned and accrued, but unused to date, will continue to be eligible for cash out within current policy guidelines until July 1, 2012.

The Pension Enhancement Program (PEP) to be eliminated: Unused sick days will no longer be able to artificially boost salary submitted to the pension funds after June 30, 2012 for non-union employees. Currently, PEP allows for the increase of salary by up to 20 percent. Therefore, this program has the potential to increase pension liability that is manifested, not only in a one-time payment, but in a yearly payment for the duration of the employee’s life. Effective June 30, 2012, PEP will be eliminated.

Sick days to be distributed twice a year: Currently, employees earn at a rate of one sick day per month for year-round employees, and, under the new policy, there will be no change to the earning rate or annual allotment of days. However, under the new policy, half of the number of sick days will be distributed on July 1 and the other half on January 1, rather than all at once at the beginning of the fiscal year.

Personal days will no longer be eligible for conversion to cash: Under the current policy, employees earn three personal days each year which, if unused at the end of the year, are converted to sick days and may be compensatory or used for service. Under the new policy, personal days will no longer be eligible for carry over or conversion to cash. If approved, the new policy will go into effect immediately for those employees hired after the approval date. For existing employees, the new policy will go into effect on July 1, 2012.

The new sick day policy is a significant step in revising our benefits policies to ensure all employees are provided with a fair benefits package while identifying savings that can be invested in our classrooms to boost student achievement. We greatly appreciate your understanding and working with us during this time. Your contribution to the District in implementing our mission to provide all children with access to a high quality education is invaluable. We appreciate all that you are doing to work with us during these difficult fiscal times. Thank you for your continued dedication.



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