Quick Hit Thursday June 27th, 2013, 11:31am

Op-Ed: City Council Progressive Reform Caucus Speaks Out On CPS Budget Cuts

The Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Caucus members released the following statement on Thursday in response to the news of massive cuts to Chicago Public School budgets across the city.

Even after all the supposed cost-savings arising from the closing of 50 public schools, Chicago Public Schools are now facing the most severe budget cuts in their history. While we still do not know the full extent of these cuts, at least 850 CPS employees will lose their jobs. Schools received their new budgets this month and found their budgets severely reduced.

As elected representatives of the communities of Chicago, we are alarmed by the stripping of basic necessities which define a school. The neighborhood schools have been reduced to beggars, lacking such essentials as sanitation supplies, library book funds, field trip money, playground supervision. The principals have been given the new budgets and told to ‘do more with less.’

In order to hold onto their schools' teaching positions, the principals are forced to make the cuts themselves. Some principals are combining classes to eliminate a teacher position. Thus class sizes will increase.

Compounding this problem is the fact that next year, teachers will be evaluated largely upon the basis of their students' test scores. However, with bigger class sizes, less individual attention, and fewer enhancements to the curriculum, test score decline seems inevitable.

Injustice is written into the new budgets, which were released in the few remaining days of the school year. Children will find some of their most enjoyable activities, subjects and extracurriculars deleted next year. No money for teaching artists, no money for art supplies, for museum visits, for sports equipment.

It is not too late to prevent these cuts and reverse the direction of our city. Instead of divesting from our public education system, we should invest heavily from the TIF funds. If we act now and surplus a portion of the annual TIF revenues and re-invest in neighborhood schools, our school funding problems would be partially alleviated. We understand an annual TIF surplus may not be a sustainable solution, but it's available now and clearly better than short changing our children's future with draconian cuts.

If we ordered the City's priorities properly, we would put millions currently allocated for other TIF projects where they are most needed, and where they can do the most good--into the future of our children and our communities in the city's neediest neighborhoods. We can still change course and do what's right for our city."

— Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Caucus Members Ald. Robert Fioretti (2), Ald. Leslie Hairston (5), Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6),  Ald. Toni Foulkes (15), Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22), Ald. Scott Waguespack (32), Ald. Nick Sposato (36), Ald. John Arena (45)


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