THE LOOP — All Chicago Public Schools employees will lose four days of pay after the district announced $35 million in cuts because of a state budget impasse.
Employees must take off the four unpaid days when students are not scheduled to be in class, CPS officials said. The days were designated as "school improvement days," which are used to train teachers. The first comes Feb. 3.
The CPS budget counted on $215 million in additional funding for the state, which it expected to use to pay employees' pensions, but Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the package.
"Since Gov. Rauner is denying fair funding to Chicago students, we are forced to make cuts that will create new challenges for schools that are working to build on their academic gains," CPS Chief Executive Forrest Claypool stated. "But make no mistake, any additional cuts we are forced to make would fall squarely at the governor's feet."
The Chicago Teachers Union said both the governor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the district were to blame for the cuts. In a statement, the union called out Claypool and Emanuel for filling "district budget holes with money they knew would never materialize."
Catherine Kelly, a spokeswoman for the governor, said it was getting "old" for city officials to blame Rauner — who took office two years ago — "for decades of fiscal mismanagement and bad decision-making."
"CPS willingly chose to budget for money they had not received and knew was contingent upon real pension reform," Kelly said.
When Rauner vetoed a bill that would have helped CPS pay its pensions, he said that Democratic leaders had not done enough to solve the state's pension crisis and reach a long-term deal as negotiations over a state budget ground to a halt over the governor's demands for term limits and a property tax freeze.
If lawmakers in the General Assembly — where both houses are controlled by Democrats — adopt statewide "pension reform," Rauner said he would reconsider the funds for CPS.
The teachers union called on the city to move additional tax-increment financing funds (TIF) for the school budget.
“‘Just like the cuts to special education, school closings and a host of other atrocities, this is another example of Rahm and his Board balancing the budget by taking from students and educators without even trying to secure resources from those who can most afford it,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said in a statement.
This year's annual city budget includes provisions for $87 million in TIF surplus to go toward schools.
Last year, CPS officials forced teachers to take three unpaid days off to save $30 million. In turn, teachers walked off the job for a one-day strike on April 1 to protest what they said was unequal and insufficient funding for Chicago schools.
The furlough days are:
• Friday, Feb. 3
• Friday, April 7
• Wednesday, June 21
• Thursday, June 22
CPS announced the cuts Friday after the U.S. Justice Department announced the findings of its investigation into the Chicago Police Department.
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