CPS Principals Learn How Deep Budgets Will Be Cut

"It's more than teachers losing their jobs. It's students losing a critical service," said Blaine Elementary Principal Troy LaRaviere."It's more than teachers losing their jobs. It's students losing a critical service," said Blaine Elementary Principal Troy LaRaviere.

Chicago Public Schools principals on Tuesday are learning just how deep their budgets will be cut after last week's announcement that the district was slashing more than $100 million from annual school budgets.

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The district says in order to save $85 million through the end of this school year it will reduce the amount of money spent per student from $4,390 to $4,176 – a 4.87-percent reduction, totaling $214 dollars per student.

"These painful reductions are not the steps that we want to take, but they are the steps we must take as our cash position becomes tighter every day," CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement. "Our hope is that we will be able to reach an agreement with the CTU, which will allow us to roll back these personnel reductions before we have to give notice to employees at the end of this month."

Claypool first announced the cuts would happen last week, the day after the Chicago Teachers Union announced it would not accept the district's latest contract offer. Though contract negotiations are ongoing, the CEO has said these cuts were necessary.

CPS CEO Forrest Claypool joined "Chicago Tonight" on Feb. 3, just two days after the CTU unanimously rejected the district's offer.CPS CEO Forrest Claypool joined "Chicago Tonight" on Feb. 3, just two days after the CTU unanimously rejected the district's offer.

But one local principal at Blaine Elementary in Wrigleyville says the district is using the cuts as a ploy to force teachers into a contract. 

"It's more than teachers losing their jobs. It's students losing a critical service that that teacher is providing to those students, that that staff member is providing to those students," Troy LaRaviere said in an interview. "And you don't do that, particularly in the middle of school year, unless it is absolutely necessary. The question becomes, is it necessary or is this entire move an act to force concessions out of the union? And so, I don't ask questions like that lightly."

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The district says in order to reduce the impact of this now-decreased per-pupil funding amount, it has received permission from the Illinois State Board of Education to use federal Title I and Title II grant funds on schools. The district says this means schools with the highest populations of low-income students will see the least impact on their budgets.

Additionally, charter schools will lose $13.8 million of student-based budgeting (SBB) funding. Since charters have already received the first three of their quarterly payments, the entire amount of the reduction will be taken from their fourth quarter payments made in April.

Principals were summoned on Tuesday to the district's Colman Network office in Bronzeville for meetings with CPS leadership and network chiefs, and to receive their new budgets. They'll have until Tuesday, Feb. 16 to finalize their budgets.

In a statement, the Chicago Teachers Union responded saying it finds Tuesday's cuts "unnecessary and completely retaliatory, and not at all evident of some urgent crisis in our schools."

The union says it has also requested a school-by-school breakdown of the budget adjustments to examine whether low-income, minority communities will be disproportionately impacted.

CPS says these cuts will total $120 million annually. Additionally, the district is saving $150 million by eliminating the pension pickup for central office employees and CTU, and $45 million from streamlining central office.

CTU President Karen Lewis also shared a social media message for the Board of Education:

Follow Brandis Friedman on Twitter: @BrandisFriedman


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