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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/19/2013 (8 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

$1 billion budget deficit prompts drastic measures

Burdened with a heavy operational deficit, Chicago Public Schools is planning to lay off more than 2,000 employees, more than 1,000 of them teachers, the district declared. It's extremely serious as about half of the 1,036 teachers being let go are tenured.

A lack of pension reform is being blamed for many of the district's fiscal woes. Pension payments are growing this fiscal year by an additional $400 million.

A lack of pension reform is being blamed for many of the district's fiscal woes. Pension payments are growing this fiscal year by an additional $400 million.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/19/2013 (8 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Chicago, schools, teachers, layoffs, tenure, benefits


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The layoffs, which will also include 1,077 school staff members, in addition to 855 employees and 420 teachers fired last month were a result of the district's decision to close 49 elementary schools and a high school program.

The district was "scraping the bottom" of reserves to provide financial and had made cuts in other spending before making layoffs, CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll says. "We're not going to be able to cut our way out of this crisis," Carroll said. "Our revenues are simply not keeping in line with our spending increases."

A lack of pension reform is being blamed for many of the district's fiscal woes. Pension payments are growing this fiscal year by an additional $400 million. The wave of dismissals was the result of "budgetary decisions made by principals or changes in enrollment," the district said in a statement.

"Absent pension reform in Springfield, we had very few options available to us to close that gap," Carroll said.

"This year, given the magnitude and the size of this deficit, and the fact that there was no pension reform reached in Springfield, this has made it to the doorsteps of our schools."

School budgets based on a per-pupil funding formula were released last month. Principals began complaining about severe budget cuts and being forced to cut art and music teachers.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis expressed dismay over the layoffs. "Once again, CPS has lied to parents, employees and the public about keeping the new school-based budget cuts away from the classroom," she said.

The last time CPS laid off a large number of teachers was 2010, when 1,200 teachers lost jobs because of that year's fiscal crisis. CPS says 65 percent were rehired that year.

Usually a majority of laid off teachers find other jobs within the district, but CPS is facing a significant shortfall this year.

Under the new contract, highly qualified teachers who have not followed students to the designated schools receiving children from closing schools are eligible to be in a reassigned teacher pool at full pay and benefits for five months next school year.

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