Chicago Public Schools announced a round of “painful layoffs” to its Central Office and administrative staff Friday, giving more than 220 employees layoff notices.
The district announced that more than 400 positions in the Central Office and its administrative workforce would be closed Friday, saving the District $45.1 million annually.
The cuts include administrative functions in departments such as procurement, law, IT, facilities, diverse learners and payroll, CPS said.
In total, 227 employees will receive layoff notices Friday. Fifty-seven of the cut employees are on teams that are being downsized, and those employees will be able to reapply for 35 positions, according to officials.
In addition, 180 vacant positions will be closed.
With a budget crisis looming and the second semester underway, the district said the cuts were made by “prioritizing the immediate needs of our schools."
“We do not take these actions lightly, but as we ask others to do their part, we are doing everything in our power to put our fiscal house in order,” CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement. “Every department at CPS will have to do more with less, as we streamline administrative functions in an effort to prevent cuts from reaching our classroom doors. These cuts will consolidate some functions and challenge the district to continue delivering services.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Friday the cuts are intended to "protect the classroom."
"We have a lot of work to do to right the financial books, but it should not come at the expense of what our teachers and students are doing," he said. "Which is why we're looking at the Central Office and its efficiencies to hold up what we're doing in the classroom."
But one administration worker who said she was fired Friday disagreed.
"It does affect the classroom, it has to affect the classroom," said Yerick Kaslov, who processed magnet school applications for two years. "There's no way it won't. I mean [Emanuel] says what he needs to say, but there's no way it doesn't affect the classroom."
Kaslov added "it's just disheartening to see that this happens to kids."
Claypool noted that CPS is in negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union for a multi-year agreement that would prevent mid-year classroom layoffs and give teachers a raise over the life of the contract.
“We are also pressing Springfield to wake up to the injustice that Chicago’s students face a separate but unequal education funding system," Claypool said in a statement. "Chicago students get only 15 percent of the state’s funding despite making up 20 percent of the state’s enrollment – a difference of nearly $500 million. This inequity must end."
The announcement follows a proposal introduced by Republican lawmakers Wednesday that would give the state control over CPS and allow the financially struggling district to claim bankruptcy.
Illinois Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin introduced the legislation Wednesday morning, saying they "are throwing Chicago and CPS a lifeline."
"We believe taxpayers and the school children of Illinois in Chicago deserve better," Durkin said. "The goal here is to provide the tools to right the ship. I want to re-emphasize this, this is not a bailout. This is not a state bailout of CPS. Taxpayers statewide should not and will not be held responsible for the historically bad decisions made by Chicago politicians."
Gov. Bruce Rauner backs the plan, but Emanuel is "100 percent opposed" to it.