CPS issues nearly 100 pink slips

With overall enrollment down, district is getting less state and federal poverty money.

November 5, 2013

Becky Vevea

AP/File
Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett speaks at a news conference earlier this month as Mayor Rahm Emanuel looks on.

Chicago Public Schools issued layoff notices to nearly 100 teachers and support staff late last week, about two months after pink slips are typically issued.

Earlier this year, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said schools would not have to lay off staff if fewer than expected students showed up during the first weeks of school. That announcement came shortly after the 20th day of school, when CPS and districts across the state are required to finalize enrollment and make staffing adjustments as needed.

CPS officials say the promise to hold schools harmless for enrollment dropping is not extended to state and federal money for low-income students.

In all, 94 teachers and support staff were eliminated, according to CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll, of which 33 were due to decreases in state and federal poverty funds that follow students. Eleven positions were technically cut over the summer, but staffed temporarily due to transition work and 10 early childhood or other specialists were eliminated.

The 40 school assistants that received pink slips failed to get required certifications after having been on notice for several years, Carroll said.

Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, said the layoffs will hit the most vulnerable students more than two months into the school year.

“In a system that’s this large, the overall impact might not be huge, but the impact for specific students who are losing these staff, that will be a big deal,” Sharkey said.

The small wave of pink slips comes after a summer during which nearly 3,000 teachers were let go. It also comes days after the district announced it plans to turn a Northwest Side middle school into a military academy and hand over a closed school building to a contract school--both proposals school officials denied less than a year ago.

“I would say that right now, the board is on kind of a run of broken promises,” Sharkey said.

Carroll refuted Sharkey’s statement that this was a broken promise, saying state and federal poverty allocations are entirely out of the district’s control.

Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her @WBEZeducation.