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CPS Might End The School Year Early Unless The State Delivers More Funds

By Stephen Gossett in News on Feb 27, 2017 10:53PM

Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool / Getty Images / Photo: Brian Kersey
Chicago Public Schools may resort to drastic measures if the state of Illinois doesn't swiftly provide more funds for the cash-strapped district: CPS said on Monday that the school year will end as early as June 1 if more money isn't provided, according to reports.

The district could make the move—which would end the school calendar more than two weeks ahead of schedule—if a lawsuit against Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois State Board of Education fails to deliver an advantageous ruling for CPS. Without the cash flux, the district could also reportedly cancel non-special-ed summer school for elementary students.

"If students are not in class, they forever lose those days of learning. There is no way to compensate for missed time in the classroom," said CPS Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson in an affidavit, according to the Tribune. A request for comment from CPS communications officials was not immediately returned.

CPS is now calling on a ruling to be made from Judge Franklin Valderrama before the end of April, according to the Sun-Times. The district filed a preliminary injunction on Monday to request a speedier ruling.

The early closure, if it were to happen, would reportedly save around $96 million. CPS currently faces a $215 million pension gap. Rauner vetoed a bill in December that would have provided the money, claiming that Democratic had done enough to provide broader pension reforms. Since the veto, CPS has mandated four furlough days for teachers and announced a $46 million freeze in discretionary spending. Some $15 million was reinstated after the Latino Advisory Committee resigned in protest when a Sun-Times investigation revealed that the cuts disproportionately impacted Hispanic-majority schools.

CPS slapped Rauner and Board with the lawsuit about two weeks ago. The suit cites no less than the landmark civil-rights decision Brown v. the Board of Education, arguing that Illinois keeps "two separate and demonstrably unequal systems of funding for public education in Illinois."

"[T]he way education is funded is in violation of the civil rights of our children,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at the time.