Chicago Public Schools announced Thursday that district employees will be furloughed for three days this year.
The unpaid days are expected to save the district $30 million, officials said.
“It’s never easy to furlough employees, but our priority was to preserve instructional time for our students while preserving year-end cash and continuing to chip away at our budget gap,” CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement.
In a letter to employees Thursday, Claypool blamed Gov. Bruce Rauner and a lack of funding from the state for forcing the district to furlough employees.
“Unfortunately, as he’s made clear in recent weeks, Governor Rauner is more interested in forcing bankruptcy and taking over our schools than in addressing the unequal funding issues that hurt districts like ours across the state,” the letter read. “We know we cannot cut our way to a solution. However, the Governor’s inaction means we must continue to cut costs and ease our cash flow, so we can do what’s necessary to ensure our classrooms are protected and our students’ progress is uninterrupted.”
Teachers will be furloughed March, June 22 and June 23. All other staff will be furloughed March 25, April 21 and April 22.
The Chicago Teachers Union said the move could cost teachers an 8.6 percent loss in pay and said it only adds “insult to injury.”
The furlough announcement comes just days after CPS announced dozens of employee layoffs, including 17 teacher layoffs. Claypool also revealed plans last month for hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts. In that same announcement, he revealed major changes to CPS’ pension plan.
The Chicago Teachers Union has threatened to strike as early as April 1, saying the district’s decision to cancel a 7 percent pension pickup payment is an unfair labor practice.
CPS, however, said a strike is not legally possible until mid-May.
CTU President Karen Lewis said the furlough announcement “only strengthens our resolve to shut down the school district on April 1st.”
“The mayor is already seeking a 7 percent pay cut and today’s directive adds another reduction in salary and benefits,” she said in a statement. “They should have never extended the school year in the first place if they couldn’t afford to do so.”