New report: CPS faces "enormous budget gaps"

August 22, 2011

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(WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)
Overall, the Civic Federation stated it supports the proposed $5.9 billion budget for 2012.

Chicago Public Schools 2012 budget is acceptable, but only for the short term. That's according to a report released by the Civic Federation on Monday.

The checkbook that Chicago Public Schools has to balance is like any of ours, but far bigger and far scarier.  Laurence Msall, President of the Civic Federation said, "It is in a very dire situation."

The Federation's 82-page analysis of next year's CPS budget endorses some painful decisions - like denying teachers a four percent cost of living increase and raising property taxes. It says such decisions are in part necessary to maintain class size.

Despite these hand-wringing choices, Msall said, "This is a good budget and a good short-term plan for Chicago Public Schools. It is not the long-term plan that they need in order to get through the next three to five years."

Looking ahead, the Federation report uses phrases like "fiscal calamity in the very near future." Some of the highlighted causes include a broken pension system that may be beyond repair, and the financial instability of the state of Illinois as a whole.

The Federation is urging CPS leadership to start planning for the widening future budget shortfall now. In a press release, Msall stated, "If nothing is done, the pain and controversy of the FY2012 budget will seem mild in comparison to the massive cuts in personnel and services that will be necessary to balance the budget in FY2014."