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CPS Outlines Budget Cuts, Warns Of More Without Pension Relief

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Emanuel administration said a loss of more than $100 million in state aid for the Chicago Public Schools has forced the district to make cuts at neighborhood schools, and warned things could get worse without help from Springfield.

Interim CPS Chief Executive Officer Jesse Ruiz said budgets presented to principals on Monday were not what the district wanted, but said "they reflect the reality of where we are today: facing a budget deficit of more than $1 billion, the increasing cost of a broken pension system, and a state government that has slashed education funding by 13 percent since 2010."

Ruiz said state funding for the district will be reduced by $106 million next school year, and if the district doesn't get $500 million in pension help from the state, there could be more budget cuts in the middle of the school year.

RELATED: Budget Breakdown Per School

As it stands, per pupil spending will remain the same, but CPS will no longer maintain funding levels for schools with declining enrollment.


CPS Chief Financial Officer Ginger Ostro said at least 65 schools would see cuts of $200,000, due to lower enrollment. Overall, neighborhood schools will see $60 million in cuts, while charter schools would gain more than $30 million.

"Money will follow the students. In cases where enrollment is increasing, there will be additional funds, but where enrollment's declining, those resources will have to be reduced," she said.

Under the CPS budget plan, 238 schools will get more money than last year, but 416 will get less.

Ruiz said, even that painful budget plan counts on pension help from Springfield, which is far from guaranteed.

"The overall school budget – which we will release later this summer – relies on either $500 million in pension relief from Springfield, or a mix of more borrowing and more cuts in the second half of the coming school year," he said.


CPS officials said the cuts, as they stand now, will not increase class sizes, something the Chicago Teachers Union disputes.

"One more blow, one more cut, one more measure of austerity after the public schools in Chicago have already been staggering from…hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of cuts and thousands of layoffs," CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey says.

As a result, Sharkey predicts classroom sizes may jump to 40 students and he says the fact that the district is basing its budget on half a billion dollars in pension help that may or may not come from state lawmakers is fantasy.

Sharkey also takes issue with the timing of the release, saying if teachers are going to be laid off going forward, they've already missed opportunities to get hired elsehwhere, as suburban districts did their hiring in April.

To see how the budget will affect each school in CPS, click here to view a spreadsheet.


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