The Chicago Public Schools announced plans Monday to send pink slips to 62 district employees, including 17 teachers, citing the ongoing state budget impasse as the cause for the cuts.
"Without a solution for funding schools fairly from Springfield, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) on Monday was forced to take the next step in stabilizing its finances with midyear cuts to eliminate $85 million from school budgets. The reductions will come through layoffs, closing vacant positions, reallocating funds held in reserve, and changing programs. Next year, the reductions will amount to $120 million on an annualized basis," reads a press release from the school district.
Of the 62 layoff notices going out to district employees, 43 full-time employees will be impacted along with 19 part-time CPS workers. A rundown of which schools and positions will see the cuts will be released later today.
"The fact that these cuts needed to happen in the first place is unfortunate for our principals, teachers and - most of all - our students," said CPS CEO Forrest Claypool. "Our objective is to secure fair funding for our students, bring Illinois up from last in the country for education funding and work with Springfield to start treating students in poverty fairly, so our students get the education they deserve. These painful cuts are not what we want to do, but they are critical to keeping our school doors open."
Earlier this month, CPS announced that the $85 million in cuts were coming down the pike, advising principals in the district that the per-pupil funding rate was going to be reduced by $214, from $4,390 to $4,176. District-run schools will receive a portion of $41 million in federal Title I and Title II funds that have been redirected from use for the Central Office and reserves, according to the district. Charter schools face a $13.8 million reduction in per-pupil funding. Charters, however, will see an influx of $6.8 million in federal funds to offset some of the cuts.
UPDATE 1 (6:58 p.m.): On the heels of the layoff announcement, Chicago Teachers Union officials say teachers could strike as early as April 1 if the district fails to make its 7 percent pension contribution. The district issued a 30-day notice threatening to stop payment on the pension contribution 28 days ago.
"The board claims they've got a right to do that. We're sure they're wrong," CTU Vice-President Jesse Sharkey said Monday. "For them to say, 'OK, you can't go on strike but we can make a unilateral term change in employment by way of a 7-percent pay cut,' we think that's an outrageous violation of the way labor law works and if they actually go through with it, you can expect our labor to prepare for an unfair labor practice strike on April 1."