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CPS Latino Advisory Committee Resigns Over School Budget Cuts

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As the Chicago Board of Education weighed more potential changes to the current budget for Chicago Public Schools, there was a mass resignation by most members of a group that's supposed to advise the school district on matters of concern to Latino students.

CPS Latino Advisory Committee chairman Jose Rico said his committee's recommendations have fallen on deaf ears at the board, and that schools with mostly Latino students have the least amount of money spent on them.

Rico said his committee made recommendations on school improvements more than six months ago, but no one from the school board would meet with them.

"We have not been able to meet with them for over six months," he said.

Jesse Ruiz, a former school board member and onetime interim CPS chief executive officer, also resigned from the committee, and said the district should have reached out to the group.

"Folks are never going to be happy, but they will remember that you did reach out to them, that you did seek their input and their guidance, and you did try to soften the blow, and you respected them," he said.

Earlier this month, CPS put a froze up to $69 million in school spending for the rest of the school year. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, schools with majority Hispanic student populations saw their budgets for the remaining school year reduced at twice the rate of mostly white schools.

"No schools should suffer what these schools are suffering right now when it comes to cuts," Ald. George Cardenas (12th) said.

Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) said CPS is shortchanging Latino students.

"Just in my ward alone, I have two high schools that are falling apart. Yet the administration is thinking about expanding a brand new charter school to the tune of $40 million, and also building an additional $75 million high school," he said.

Advisory board members and members of the Chicago City Council's Latino caucus pointed out Hispanic children make up nearly 50% of the CPS student population, yet spending on schools in their communities make up nowhere near that percentage.

"CPS cannot be trusted. [Chief executive officer] Forrest Claypool talks all the time about putting our children first, but he continues to pull the rug out from underneath these kids," Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) said.

Jennifer Nava, a freshman at Kelly High School, said she's noticed things like cleanliness and maintenance as lacking, not to mention staff cuts she noticed when she was a student at Brighton Park Elementary School.

"You're not only messing with my education, but you're messing with my 9-year old nephew's education, my best friend's education, and my family, my community's education," she said.

Chicago Public Schools issued this statement:

"CPS will continue to work with the community on priorities that affect Hispanic children and families and we are committed to ensuring that students of all backgrounds are treated with respect, as well as feel safe and welcome in schools. We appreciate the service of members of the Latino Advisory Council."


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