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Still No Plan On How CPS Will Fill Massive Budget Gap, Rahm Says

 Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city and Chicago Public Schools are working on a plan to fill a $129 million CPS budget deficit.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city and Chicago Public Schools are working on a plan to fill a $129 million CPS budget deficit.
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

BRONZEVILLE — Mayor Rahm Emanuel again promised Chicago parents Tuesday that their children will be in school until the end of the regularly scheduled academic year — but said there is no plan yet to fill the massive budget gap facing Chicago schools.

Emanuel said CPS officials were working to develop a plan with the city's help, and again blamed Gov. Bruce Rauner for creating the crisis that has engulfed the schools.

Questioned by reporters about why he allowed the threat to close schools three weeks early to endure while he knew he would step in if a court rejected the school district's pleas, Emanuel said he wanted to call attention to the “irreparable damage being done by the lack of funding” from the state.

On Friday after the court ruling, Emanuel said "all options are on the table" to fund CPS.

"We will meet our obligations," the mayor said.

Eleni Demertzis, a spokeswoman for the governor, said several bills that have Rauner's support are pending in the General Assembly.

"The mayor continues to point fingers instead of acknowledging the fact that the General Assembly is responsible for passing a new school funding formula," Demertzis said in a news release. "We stand ready to work with lawmakers as they pass a bill that meets the needs of every district in Illinois."

Several aldermen have proposed using city redevelopment funds to help the schools stay open, but the measures failed to advance. That plan has been endorsed by both Rauner and the Chicago Teachers Union.

City officials also could decide to tap the city's emergency or "rainy day" funds, or to take out a loan on behalf of CPS.

CPS must pay its employees' pension fund $721 million by June 30.

In January, Claypool ordered four unpaid furlough days for all CPS employees to save $35 million. He also canceled professional development events for CPS central office staff to save $5 million and slashed charter school budgets by $15 million by the end of the year, officials said.

In February, Claypool cut another $31 million by freezing a portion of schools' discretionary funds, which can be used to buy textbooks and technology and pay for after-school programs, field trips and hourly staff.

Those cuts have whittled CPS' deficit to $129 million, officials said.