Chicago School Budget Cuts Could be Worse Than Expected, CPS Warns

Chicago Public Schools officials have been preparing principals for massive budget cuts for the next school year, but on Tuesday, it was revealed those cuts could reach up to 30 percent.

The district said it has been involving principals in the budget process earlier than ever as schools "plan for the worst."

The cuts have been described as devastating, a "financial tsunami," and could result in a number of teacher layoffs. 

“Given the size and complexity of an average school budget cut of 26 percent, CPS has involved principals in the school budget process earlier than ever, and has begun working with example schools to understand how cuts will affect students," the district said in a statement. "We are also exploring mitigation strategies to lessen classroom impacts. Even as we continue to seek equal funding in Springfield, we must continue to plan for the worst – higher class sizes, loss of enrichment activities, and layoffs of teachers and support staff.”

In preliminary budget drafts given to principals Tuesday, the student-based budgeting rate, which funds teaching positions, enrichment programs, and after school programs, would be reduced by 39 percent. Individual schools would feel cuts ranging from 20 to 30 percent. 

The proposed cuts would certainly impact teachers, which has many CPS parents outraged.

"When we are told by our principal that one out of every five teachers may lose their job, that breaks my heart because we have the most amazing teachers at that school,"said CPS parent Lynn Ankney. "Seeing the waste going on in the district-- it's maddening and it's got to stop."

Principals are being asked to assist in coming up with ways to cut costs, from laying off teachers, to raising class sizes, and cutting resources.

"I can no longer make the decision between cutting a teacher and a counselor. I need them both," Schurz High School principal Dan Kramer said at an LSC meeting earlier this month.

CPS officials called for a revamped funding plan from lawmakers in Springfield, blaming the deficit in part on the funding formula that they say costs the district more then $500 million each year, and the $74 million reduction in funding proposed by Governor Bruce Rauner.

CPS is facing a $1 billion budget deficit and said it is basing budget drafts off a roughly $700 million cut. 

The district must pass an overall budget by August.

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