(Adds Lightfoot statement, details)
By Brendan O'Brien
CHICAGO, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest system in the United States, canceled Thursday classes for 361,000 students, ahead of a strike deadline set by the teachers who are locked in protracted labor negotiations.
Chicago Teachers Union leadership has informed the bargaining team for Chicago Public Schools that they will recommend to their house of delegates that a strike should proceed on Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said during a morning news conference.
"We have tried to remain optimistic that through good faith negotiations and hard work, we could reach a deal and advert a strike," she said. "The deal that we put on the table is the best in the Chicago Teachers Union history."
In addition to wage increases, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is demanding further funding to ease overcrowded classrooms and to hire more support staff, two issues that have plagued the school district. (Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago)