In the face of a $480 million budget gap, an estimated 200 Chicago Public Schools employees are expected to receive pink slips in the latest round of belt-tightening at the nation’s fourth largest school district, reports The Chicago Tribune.
Teachers are expected to be spared in the latest bout of cuts that will impact administrative staff and workers at the central office, which could save the district up to $80 million, notes the report.
School officials are currently negotiating new contracts with the Chicago Teachers Union in an effort to avoid a repeat of the city’s 2012 strike.
CPS chief Forrest Claypool released a statement Thursday about the layoffs, saying he hopes the system will learn to “do more with less,” reports CBS Chicago:
“Tomorrow – as we continue to work with the teachers union and Springfield on solutions to our budget crisis – we are prioritizing the immediate needs of our schools and moving forward with painful layoffs to the Central Office and administrative staff,” CPS chief Forrest Claypool said in a prepared statement.
“We do not take these actions lightly, but as we ask others to do their part, we are doing everything in our power to put our fiscal house in order. Every department at CPS will have to do more with less, as we streamline administrative functions in an effort to prevent cuts from reaching our classroom doors. These cuts will consolidate some functions and challenge the district to continue delivering services.
“As we start the second semester, it is critical to keep as many resources in the classroom as possible to protect our students’ academic gains.”
The district intended to issue a statement Thursday “when news leaks” about Friday morning meetings on the announcement, then follow up with a broad overview of the layoffs Friday morning. Additional information on the job cuts was to be released “EOD” — at the end of the day.
The memo is another indication of how Mayor Rahm Emanuel‘s administration works to control the flow of information to reporters and the public. Releasing news late Friday reduces time for reporting on an issue and puts stories out to the public on the weekend, when people are less inclined to be following the news.
The proposed bureaucratic layoffs come as negotiators for the school system and Chicago Teachers Union continue to bargain over a contract to replace one that expired June 30. Both sides have agreed to enter, on Feb. 1, a final stage of negotiations that must occur before teachers can carry out a threat to walk off the job. If that goes as scheduled, a potential strike could not occur until the end of May.
The Chicago Teachers Union is still in talks with the city to agree on a new contract. Feb. 1 is the deadline for teachers and administrators to reach a decision before teachers can “carry out a threat to walk off the job,” notes the report.