Chicago Public Schools Face Billion-Dollar Deficit

Unless unions make concessions on pay and benefits, CPS will be forced to increase class size and reduce programs, says CEO Huberman

Thursday, Feb 25, 2010  |  Updated 9:58 PM CDT
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Huberman's Straight Talk About CPS Finances

Chicago Public Schools CEO says cuts and layoffs are ahead if unions don't make concessions.
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The head of the Chicago Public Schools laid out a dire budget forecast today, saying the school system faces a deficit that could reach more than $1 billion next school year.

Enumerating problem after problem, CEO Ron Huberman said that if the current state budget proposal goes through and unless CPS unions made major concessions, the Board of Education would be forced to lay off teachers and cut programs.

The school system is currently projecting deficits of $900 million.

"But that deficit didn't assume a cut from Springfield," Huberman said. "We made that assumption because we were cut last year, and thought education would be prioritized.

"We are potentially looking at a billion dollar deficit, based on the governor's proposed budget."

To balance the current year's budget, CPS will cut another 500 jobs by the end of March, Huberman said. Meanwhile non-union central office and citywide staff will be forced to take an additional three weeks of unpaid furlough days. CPS will also ask for no merit raises for non-union employees.

Huberman added that unless unions make concessions on pay and benefits, CPS will be forced to increase class size and reduce programs.

An increase in class size from 30 to 31 students would allow CPS to lay off about 600 teachers, which would save $40 million, Huberman said.

Huberman announced several belt-tightening efforts as well, including $100 million in cuts and removing 536 positions after the school year start. Those budget cuts include reduction of IT services, food services, and transportation.

Chicago has faced rough school-related news recently.

Earlier this week, Huberman announced CPS would close or overhaul eight schools for low enrollment, poor facilities and bad academic performance.

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