The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Facing $1 Billion Deficit, CPS Plans Big Cuts

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Feb 26, 2010 3:20PM

2010_01_19_CPS.jpg Facing a financial crisis that has spiraled out of control with a deficit potentially nearing $1 billion, the Chicago Public School system has announced another round of cuts. CPS chief Ron Huberman announced yesterday that there would be three more weeks of furlough days and 500 non-union job cuts in an effort to stave off a 2010-2011 deficit that is projected to reach $975 million. The projected budget shortfall for the CPS is $700 million but Gov. Quinn's new budget adds in an additional $275 million in cuts. Huberman is also asking the Chicago Teachers Union, due a four percent cost of living increase in wages next year ($169 million), for concessions as well as for pension reform and a delay in payments due to the pension. According to the Tribune:

The underfunded teacher pension will cost the school district a whopping $587 million next year, a 91 percent increase from this year.

The pension's status is the result of many factors. A steep market decline, a large chunk of new retirees and years of the district making no contribution at all have left it about 74 percent funded. State law requires the pension to be funded at 90 percent, and the district is now facing steep payment increases to catch up.

The Sun-Times reports the drop in local tax revenue to be at around $138 million. CTU President Marilyn Stewart, however, balked at suggestions to delay the raise or pension payment. "We will not agree to any proposal that either destroys our contract or fails to maintain the integrity of our pension system. Nor will we tolerate implied threats by Mr. Huberman that he may have to cut programs and services for our students or lay off teachers." All additional layoffs will come on top of a large round of job cuts that have occurred since just before this school year which the Sun-Times reports has amounted to "557 central office and citywide jobs before the school year started and another 30 jobs and 132 vacant positions at midyear to balance this year's budget."