Chicago Public Schools officials project that the district has a $600 million to $700 million budget shortfall for 2013. CPS blames drops in federal money, like money from the stimulus program, and local tax revenue as well as ballooning debt obligations. Plus, CPS warns that budget matters will grow worse in 2014 when the four-year teacher pension holiday expires.
The shortfall does not factor in CPS extending the school day next year from five hours and 45 minutes to seven hours and 30 minutes. Also, there are negotiations now between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union over a new collective bargaining contract. The current agreement expires June 30.
CTU was skeptical of CPS's budget projection. "We're going to need to take a serious look at the kind of assumptions they're making on the tax revenue," CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey told the Tribune.
UPDATE 1 (5:05 p.m.): Chicago Teachers Union officials argue that the CPS budget estimates "lack credibility." The union released this statement from CTU President Karen Lewis in response to the CPS budget projections:
This is just another example of CPS playing hide and go seek with budget numbers, and since their numbers have lacked credibility for a decade, there is no reason to take them seriously today, either. Taxpayers deserve real conversations about how this District will offer students the high quality schools they need. The Board should file its proposed budget for public review in June and then we can begin this discussion. ... Just this year CPS falsely claimed in the press that it had a $724 million budget deficit but could not fully explain how they came to that number. Despite its alleged budget woes the District still found money to fund its longer school day Pioneer Program, turnarounds, and still have enough money to hire dozens of new staff in newly created departments,” she said. “We won’t know the financial truth until CPS files an audited statement—until then, we should take their projections with a grain of salt.