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Jones College Prep Will Keep All Teachers Despite $321K Cut, Principal Says

By David Matthews | February 10, 2016 6:51am | Updated on February 10, 2016 9:56pm
 Jones College Prep students go back to school on Sept. 8, 2015.
Jones College Prep students go back to school on Sept. 8, 2015.
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DNAinfo/David Matthews

DOWNTOWN — Jones College Prep will keep all its staff despite being ordered to slash more than $321,000 from its budget this week, the principal of the Downtown school said Tuesday.

P. Joseph Powers told his local school council Tuesday that the selective-enrollment high school at 700 S. State St. can absorb the mid-year budget cut without shedding staff by tapping into about $400,000 it has saved in recent years.

The announcement came the same day Chicago Public Schools officials outlined $120 million in new school cuts they ordered in response to stalled labor negotiations and millions in state funding the school system budgeted for last summer but never received.

"We were on hold [spending] because we knew this sort of thing was coming," Powers said.

RELATED: Chicago School Cuts Revealed: See How Your School Fared

Powers said he has until Feb. 29 to cut $321,209 from his school budget. To do so, he plans to use some of the nearly $340,000 in state funding Jones has saved in recent years, and another $62,000 the school previously set aside for furniture and school equipment.

He said he may ask Friends of Jones, a school booster club with $145,000 in its coffers, to help address the mid-year budget cut.

This week's CPS cuts represent a 3.3 percent budget reduction for Jones, which actually received $1.45 million in more funding from the school system last summer due to surging enrollment. But that boost, bolstered by the opening of a new Jones building in 2013, stands to adversely affect Jones and other city schools with high enrollment this week. Lane Tech College Prep, which has more than 4,000 students, stands to lose the most money of any CPS school at $542,951, or 2.8 percent of its budget, compared to an average of 1.4 percent cuts this week across CPS.

CPS is operating at a $1.1 billion deficit and its budget this year included a $480 million hole that CPS chief Forrest Claypool hoped could be plugged through state funding by the new year. But the money never came, and with few signs it will, Claypool said the district had to take drastic action. He has denied the new cuts this week are an attempt to pressure the Chicago Teachers Union as they negotiate a new contract.

“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," Claypool said in a statement Tuesday. "We are doing everything in our power to sustain the gains our students are making in their classrooms.”

Elsewhere Downtown, Ogden International School will cut its budget by nearly $264,000 and Walter Payton College Prep — which started a $1.1 million fundraising campaign late last year in anticipation of new cuts — will slash nearly $175,000.

More school cuts Downtown:

• Salazar Elementary, 160 W. Wendell St.: $42,166 (2.1 percent)

• South Loop Elementary, 1212 S. Plymouth Court: $128,146 (3.1 percent)

• National Teachers Academy, 55 W. Cermak Road: $59,516 (1.7 percent)

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