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Chicago Public Schools Faces Devastating Cuts Next Year

By aaroncynic in News on May 25, 2016 5:05PM

Photo credit: Justin Carlson
Chicago Public Schools will face yet another round of painful budget cuts. According to a handful of principals who received preliminary budgets, projected cuts in the District's 2016 -2017 budget could range between 20 and 30 percent—which means more layoffs, increased class sizes, and an even further shrinking of already undersized resources.

"You're going to lose some quality teachers that come here and sacrifice for these kids daily," Jeff Dase, principal at Coles Language Academy told ABC7. According to Dase, the school is looking at a potential $400,000 in cuts, which could mean laying off seven of the 34 teachers at the school.

Gregory Jones, principal at Kenwood Academy High School, told the Hyde Park Herald his school faces a 26 percent cut, a loss of $2.8 million. Due to previous cuts from earlier in the school year, the school has already had to lay off 10 people.

In total, WGN reports CPS is looking at $700 million in cuts if lawmakers in Springfield can’t reach a deal to assist the financially beleaguered district, which has a $1 billion budget deficit.

“If we don’t get any funding from the state to help close that gap, you’re looking at significant cuts in staffing and students,” said Jones.

In a statement to the Tribune last week, CPS spokesperson Emily Bittner said the district was working with schools to understand how cuts would impact students.

"Even as we continue to seek equal funding in Springfield, we must continue to plan for the worst — higher class sizes, loss of enrichment activities, and layoffs of teachers and support staff,” Bittner said.

The Chicago Teacher’s Union and other community groups have put the blame on Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Bruce Rauner and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool for being unwilling to use other revenue to boost cash-strapped budgets. Policy suggestions include closing corporate loopholes, creating a progressive income tax or taxing LaSalle Street trading.

“Chicago Public Schools are broke on purpose,” CTU reps wrote in a statement on Monday. "Claypool won’t dare approach his boss or his wealthy backers for the funds our students desperately need.”

Wednesday morning, more than 100 parents of CPS children held what they called a “million dollar bake sale” in front of District headquarters to “illustrate parents’ frustration and determination to keep the pressure on elected officials throughout the summer and demand appropriate and equitable funding for CPS schools,” according to a press release.

The CTU has also called for support for its “revenue recovery plan,” which includes repurposing the TIF surplus, a tax on ride-share services and other revenue boosters they say could raise up to $502 million.

Emanuel has rejected this and other plans and instead, is looking to Springfield. While he has yet to make a trip to lobby legislators in the Capitol, he hasn’t ruled it out and has said he’s been in regular contact with them.

"I've been personally in touch with them, in person, and there's a lot of ways, you can FaceTime people on cellphones, if you're worried about that personal touch, OK?" Emanuel told the Tribune. "I'm going to continue to be, not just on the phone but in person. This weekend I was meeting with legislators from the Chicago area."