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Chicago Public Schools' Chief Looks to Unions to Save Money

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Chicago Public Schools' Chief Looks to Unions to Save Money

Chicago Public Schools’ CEO Ron Huberman (AP/File)

Chicago Public Schools chief Ron Huberman says critical programs will be slashed unless the district gets concessions from unions.

Related: CPS Announces Job Cuts, Paints Dire Budget Outlook

Chicago Public Schools says its budget deficit could hit a billion dollars next year. Huberman wants at least some additional state money, but what he really needs is pension relief, and he says he can’t get that without union support.

HUBERMAN: When we go down to Springfield alone, it’s very hard to be successful. To the degree that we can work in partnership with our unions and go down collectively, we stand a much better chance of driving change.

In an effort to make its case, the district is sending letters to parents and employees outlining its dire financial state.

Huberman says the deficit is so large, even ridiculous measures, like stuffing 45 kids in a classroom and laying off 4,000 teachers, would only plug a third of the hole.

On Thursday Huberman announced 15 extra furlough days for central office staff and 500 layoffs. That’s on top of more than 500 jobs cut since July.

UPDATE: In a written statement, Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart says, “I want to make it clear that we will not agree to any proposal that either destroys our contract or fails to maintain the integrity of our pension system. Nor will we tolerate the implied threats being made by Mr. Huberman that he may have to cut programs and services for our students or lay off teachers.”

Stewart says the union will work with Huberman in seeking additional state funding.

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