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CPS Announces Another Wave Of Cuts, Blames Rauner & Budget Impasse

By aaroncynic in News on Feb 6, 2017 11:43PM

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.

As if Chicago’s already cash-strapped public schools could handle any more cuts, Chicago Public Schools announced Monday it is freezing $46 million in discretionary funds, blaming Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state budget impasse for the cuts.

“Governor Rauner’s actions cement a racially biased funding system that is also the worst in the country for children living in poverty,” CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement published on the District’s website. “Governor Rauner did not create this unjust system, but he has chosen to perpetuate it, violating the civil rights of hundreds of thousands of Chicago schoolchildren and threatening their futures.”

The move comes days after teachers took their first of four unpaid furlough days, which the District claims will save $35 million. The financially beleaguered school system has been struggling to shore up a $215 million gap in funding stemming from a measure Rauner vetoed in November that would have provided the funding.

“Despite having 20 percent of the state’s school children, CPS receives just 15 percent of total state education funding,” District officials said in a statement. “On a per-pupil basis, CPS students receive merely three quarters of the per pupil funding all other Illinois school districts, on average.”

According to CPS, the majority of schools will see freezes between “0 and 2 percent” of their budgets, and none will see more than 5 percent. The move freezes spending on things like new textbooks, field trips, non-salaried staff and investments in technology.

A spokesperson for the governor fired back at the District, telling the Sun-Times “20 years of financial mismanagement by the city cannot be blamed on someone trying to put Illinois on the right fiscal path.”

The Chicago Teacher’s Union slammed the governor, the District and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the latest in what’s been a mountain of cuts the union says schools have had to absorb to the tune of $2 billion since 2011.

“CTU teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians already work with understaffed and under-resourced schools, frequently supplementing their meager supplies out of their own pockets,” union President Karen Lewis said in a statement emailed to Chicagoist. “Rahm and Rauner are both to blame. There is no separation between their intention to destroy publicly funded, public education in Chicago. Since Rahm has failed in lobbying the governor for help in securing the finances of our school communities, we demand that he and the city council figure out how to save our school communities and provide revenue until our state is rid of his mentor.”