Chicago Public Schools officials announced details of school budget cuts on Tuesday.
Principals were informed that the district is reducing its per-pupil funding rate by $214, from $4,390 to $4,176. That works out to be a $85 million cut to school budgets this academic year. According to the district, the cuts will produce annualized savings of $120 million.
District-run schools, however, will get back a portion of $41 million in federal Title I and Title II funds, according to CPS. Charters are facing a $13.8 million reduction in per-pupil funding, but they can receive $6.8 million in federal funds to offset some of the cuts.
Principals have been directed "to do everything possible to prevent teacher layoffs as a result of the reductions," according to a news release from the district. "A number of principals planned for this day, keeping contingency funds in their bank accounts. Those funds will be used to shelter their schools from the most painful reductions."
The budget cuts are a component of a plan outlined last week by CPS to save money as the district grapples with a $480 million budget hole. The district, which is in contract talks with the Chicago Teachers Union, announced the budget cuts and its plan to discontinue its pension pickup for teachers after a CTU bargaining team rejected the district's four-year contract offer.
"These painful reductions are not the steps that we want to take, but they are the steps we must take as our cash position becomes tighter every day - especially as the District relies on short-term financing to pay its bills - and we are doing everything in our power to sustain the gains our students are making in their classrooms," CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement.
"Our hope is that we will be able to reach an agreement with the CTU, which will allow us to roll back these personnel reductions before we have to give notice to employees at the end of this month," Claypool added. "We've already had productive meetings to move forward to build on the foundation we reached last month. If Springfield gave our students an equal share of the state's education funding, we could also prevent these cuts from taking place instead of trying to educate Chicago children with 73 cents for every dollar students outside Chicago receive."
For its part, the CTU called the budget cuts "unnecessary and completely retaliatory." The union released the following statement Tuesday:
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has worked for more than a year seeking a serious contract offer from Chicago Public Schools. After just three weeks of negotiations, the district made an offer that relied on a reduction of more than 2,000 educators from the system, made no provision against subsequent ballooning class sizes and included nothing but the vaguest indicators of where new revenue would be found. More importantly, the terms of that offer would not have impacted the current school year or existing school budgets in any way, so we find CPS' reduction in school budgets by $120 million unnecessary and completely retaliatory, and not at all evident of some urgent crisis in our schools.
Now that the district has finally begun negotiating in earnest, the CTU will continue to work toward a contract that will address the daily challenges faced by both students and educators, and also address the long-term fiscal crisis that threatens to gut public education in the city of Chicago. The CTU also has requested a school-by-school breakdown of today's budget adjustments to examine which communities are most impacted by the cuts, and whether attacks from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his handpicked Chicago Board of Education will continue to be centered on low-income, African-American and Latino communities.