A total of 97 percent of Chicago public school teachers, who are negotiating a new contract amid severe statewide budget troubles, said they are prepared to strike if necessary, according to media reports on Monday, citing a union official.

The purpose of last Thursday’s “practice” vote in the nation’s third-largest city was to test the process of collecting the vote and teacher sentiment as negotiations with school officials continue, the union said. The results of the vote were released on Monday.

The district, which serves about 400,000 students at more than 600 schools, faces a $1.1 billion structural deficit and thousands of possible teacher layoffs after Christmas.

A spokeswoman for the union was not immediately available for comment on the vote.

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