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  • Chicago Public Schools Lay Off Over 1000 Teachers, Other School Employees (extended)
    Posted On: Aug 08, 2016

    By JoAnne Powers, August 9, 2016

    On Friday, Chicago Public Schools announced layoffs affecting over 1000 teachers and other school workers.  Pavlyn Jankov, a researcher with the Chicago Teachers’ Union, says the true size of the cuts is masked by the number of positions already left vacant:

    [Pavlyn Jankov]: “Just this budget that was released earlier today, we noted that there are over 600 vacant positions that were cut.  They did that mid-year, in February, and they’re doing that again now.  Schools are dealing with very reduced budgets.  Now they’re annualizing that to be into the next following school year.  In addition to that, there’ve been cuts to support positions.  There’ve been cuts to Special Education.  And now, on top of that, we’ve had these layoffs.  It’s really a pretty dismal situation across the schools.  CPS essentially is really trying to put a good face on their budgets when schools themselves are left holding the bag and doing what they can with really limited resources.”

    The budget crisis facing Chicago schools in part stems from billionaire Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner holding state funding hostage for over a year, waiting for lawmakers pass anti-union provisions in the state budget.  While the state passed a stopgap budget at the end of July, Jankov says Chicago schools need additional revenues to fill that budget hole, so schools have the staff to meet students’ needs:

    [Pavlyn Jankov]: “The state passed a temporary sort-of reprieve budget, but there still isn’t any actual new revenue attached to that.  Along with that budget there was passed some additional appropriations that go to the Chicago Public Schools.  A segment of that was actually attached to the condition that there be pension reform agreed to by the state legislature…tied to a condition that might not be met.  And last year we saw a significant portion of the CPS budget 500 million, was attached to phantom revenue.  Although it seems like the state situation has been solved, that’s again like trying to put lipstick on a pig because there isn’t any new revenue at the state level.  And it’s really the same story.  The Chicago Public Schools, and Rahm Emmanuel who controls them, refuses to look at progressive revenue options.  And that’s something that not just impacts the schools but impacts city services, where homeowners and average income residents are being squeezed whereas the wealthy are getting away.  The Chicago Teachers Union as well as labor groups across the state, as well as social service agencies are pushing for concrete progressive revenue both at the state as well as the city level.”

    Jankov elaborated about CPS’s moves to cut Special Education costs:

    [Pavlyn Jankov]: “It seems like every year they attempt a new way to cut Special Education while trying to meet those legal parameters.  Last year they announced cuts in the fall…reduced paraprofessional support, reduced Special Education teachers.  They claimed that it was based off of an analysis, when, in fact, it turns out they didn’t even have the data to support that.  So, there was tremendous pushback from the schools, from the teachers, from the parents.  On paper, they re-implemented the budgets and re-opened those positions, but they did it mid-year.  Many of the Speical Education teachers who were in high demand had already taken jobs, and those positions remained vacant.  They were effectively able to reduce Special Education costs by just having a really screwed-up process last year.  They’re creating new ways of actually identifying students with need, and trying to reduce costs on the front end, which has huge legal implications, because Special Education Identification is governed under federal law, and once needs are identified, they have to be serviced.  With reduced budgets, schools are going to have a tremendously difficult time meeting those needs.  And on top of that now, there’s going to be a new process that is really an attempt on the part of the district to reduce identified need.  We’re gonna be seeing a lot more pushback against that again this year.  I believe it’s gonna be found to be illegal.”


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