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Without State Funding, CPS May Not Open In The Fall

By aaroncynic in News on Jun 2, 2016 3:12PM

Demonstrators in front of Chicago Public Schools headquarters on Madison Street during the Chicago Teachers Union "day of action" on April 1, 2016. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

Chicago Public Schools won’t open in the fall if the cash-strapped district doesn’t receive state funding. And in an interview with the Tribune on Wednesday, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said the district wouldn’t be alone either. "Chicago schools would not open, and I suspect most of the schools in the state would not open," said Claypool.

In addition to failing to pass a budget for a second year on Tuesday, lawmakers in Springfield and Gov. Bruce Rauner also failed to pass legislation to fund education. Claypool and Mayor Rahm Emanuel put all their chips behind the hope that legislators and Rauner would come to an agreement before the end of the spring session. With those hopes predictably dashed, CPS will have a tough time with a billion dollar budget hole and a looming $676 pension payment.

Rahm continued to slam Rauner in his latest statement on the budget impasse, released Thursday morning:

"Yesterday people across the state were looking for solutions. Instead of uniting the governor was dividing. Instead of leading he was playing politics, pitting parents and students in one part of the state against parents and students in another. Right now schools across Illinois need a leader‎, and instead Bruce Rauner is following the Donald Trump playbook of demonizing one group of people for his political advantage."

Traveling downstate Wednesday, Rauner beat his well-worn drum of blaming House Speaker Michael Madigan for the impasse. He also tried to pit the city against the rest of the state.

“The Senate and the House were competing with each other, who could spend more to bail out Chicago with your tax dollars from southern Illinois and central Illinois and Moline and Rockford and Danville — the communities of this state who are hard-workin’ families who pay their taxes,” said Rauner, according to the Sun-Times. “The taxes should go into our communities, not into the Chicago political machine.”

Claypool and the District both rebuked Rauner’s statement. "What the governor did today, running around the state and trying to pit one region in the state against the other, that's wrong," Claypool told the Tribune. "He was elected to lead the entire state of Illinois.”

In a statement published by Fox32 Wednesday night, CPS warned how a lack of a budget would affect students next year:

“Like most school districts in the state, Chicago Public Schools would not be able to open their doors this fall without a state education budget—which is why we remain optimistic that our leaders in Springfield will build on the progress they’ve already made this session toward equity in education funding for students all over Illinois. Now we need the Governor to end his strategy of pitting one region against another and fix the funding for all the districts suffering under Illinois’ worst-in-the nation approach."

CPS is already facing devastating cuts. Preliminary budgets released to a handful of schools last week showed that the cuts would create higher class sizes, force layoffs of both teachers and support staff, and reduced resources for students. Projected cuts for the 2016-2017 budget show schools could see their budgets reduced by 20 to 30 percent.

But Rauner, Emanuel and Claypool have all ignored several alternative plans for raising revenue so far. Plans that have been proposed by the teachers union and other activists time and again to raise revenue include taxing trades on LaSalle Street, changing the state’s income tax to a progressive one, repurposing TIF dollars, closing corporate tax loopholes or renegotiating interest rate loans, also known as “toxic swaps.”

In a statement Thursday morning, Chicago Teachers Union reps decried Claypool's leadership, and reiterated their position that the schools are "broke on purpose:"

"The head of Chicago Public Schools has said schools may not open in September because of the district’s broke-on-purpose fiscal crisis. This statement is yet another example of Forrest Claypool’s failed leadership as school CEO and the mayor’s inability to govern and provide for the city’s school children. The CTU and the Board of Education remain in contract talks."