Chicago parents, aldermen and state lawmakers urged the city on Friday to support a TIF, or tax increment financing, surplus ordinance to help avert a potential teachers strike next week and alleviate school budget cuts.
The Chicago Teachers Union has said it will go on strike next Tuesday if the union and school district fail to reach a new contract agreement by then. The union has called for passage of a citywide TIF surplus ordinance, called the Chicago Public Education Revitalization Ordinance, which was introduced in July by Alds. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) and George Cardenas (12th).
Parents saw support this morning at their "free the funds" City Hall press conference from Cardenas and Alds. Matt O'Shea (10th), Scott Waguespack (32nd) and Harry Osterman (48th) as well as Cook County Clerk David Orr and Illinois State Reps. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) and Ann Williams (D-Chicago).
Parents from the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Northside Action For Justice and Raise Your Hand Action were at the press conference.
Supporters of the TIF surplus ordinance say it would provide the Chicago Public Schools district with an estimated $200 million in revenue this year.
Despite the fact that a majority of aldermen support the ordinance, it has not yet gone up for a vote. Aldermen have expressed concerns over losing TIF money for economic development projects in their wards.
Friday's "free the funds" effort comes one day after Chicago parents, students and teachers held "walk-ins" at public schools across the city as part of a nationwide day of action for education equity.
The Brighton Park Neighborhood Council reports that 15 walk-ins were held at schools on the city's Southwest Side. Participants highlighted the TIF surplus ordinance as key proposal to provide some relief to schools grappling with budget cuts and teacher layoffs this year.
Earlier this week, CPS announced 237 teacher and support staff layoffs due to a 3.5 percent drop in enrollment.
CPS has said the district "will continue to work with principals individually to ensure that they have the resources they need to offer the education Chicago students deserve."
For its part, the CTU said the layoffs are "the latest round of attacks on children and are pushing educators closer to Chicago's third school strike in four years."
"With more than 1,200 layoffs since January, and nearly 1,500 since Claypool's appointment, the mayor and the CPS CEO are choosing to take even more from the students, educators and families who have already sacrificed so much," CTU's statement said.