Chicago Public Schools principals will have to spend less as the cash-strapped district grapples with its pressing fiscal issues, including an upcoming $688 million pension payment, district officials said Wednesday.
The district, which is reportedly looking to save $45 million through budget belt-tightening measures at schools, gave principals cost-saving targets and said prior approval will be required from school network chiefs for expenditures greater than $5,000.
CPS has until June 30 to make a $688 million pension payment. On top of that, the district has been trying to fill this year's $480 million budget gap.
Against that backdrop, CPS is expected to face what the Chicago Teachers Union is calling a "showdown" on April 1.
The union has vowed to hold an "unfair labor practice day of action" against the district's "austerity agenda" on that date.
The union and school district are in the midst of contract negotiations.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was asked about CTU's planned "showdown" protest at an unrelated news conference Wednesday.
Emanuel did not call for the union to cancel the event, though he suggested it would be unwise to disrupt classroom time.
"I believe (time) in the school is essential for our children, and the adults need to be at the negotiating table," he said, adding that "adults belong at the negotiating table, and our children and our teachers belong in the classroom, and we're gonna be committed to staying that way."
Regarding contract negotiations between the CTU and school district, Emanuel said, "We're still at the table working through, what I think is, an agreement that's a win for the teachers, a win for Chicago taxpayers and, most importantly, a win for our kids."
Emanuel added that he "believe(s) in staying at that table working through those issues, rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard work of coming to an agreement."
CTU leaders announced plans for the union's April 1 "showdown for education justice" last week after CPS officials announced the implementation of three furlough days this school year as a means to save money. In addition, union members have also expressed anger over CPS' plans, detailed last month, to cancel its 7 percent pension pickup for teachers. The district, however, said last week it would hold off on ending the pension pickup, at least for now.