Chicago Public Schools released a $5.75 billion budget Friday that relies on $269 million in money from unnamed “local sources.”
City and school district officials refused to provide details on the local source, saying there are many options for where the money can come from.
CPS CEO Forrest Claypool acknowledged that the budget is full of uncertainty and called it more of a framework than a spending plan. Claypool noted the school district was compelled by state law to release a plan.
The Chicago Board of Education is set to consider the plan on Aug. 28 — two days before a state law requires CPS to release its annual budget.
The school district is expecting about 8,000 fewer students and has budgeted for 420 fewer teacher positions and 144 fewer school support staff jobs. Yet the operational budget is $300 million more than last year, with a lot of the additional expected revenue going toward teacher pensions and debt payments.
CPS’ budget also counts on a $300 million increase in revenue from the state, which is currently locked in a stalemate that threatens the distribution of the vast majority of education money to all districts in Illinois, including CPS.
“We are not in the position to talk about local options until Springfield has lived up to its responsibility to fund schools and appropriated funds for schools,” Claypool told reporters Friday.
Matt Fabian, an analyst at a research and credit firm called Municipal Market Advisors, said investors have been expecting the city to help CPS.
“It is positive in that it diminishes CPS’ reliance a little on the state going forward, which is important because the state has been unreliable in the past,” he said. “It opens up a closer relationship between the school district and the city, which, given (the school district’s) struggles, could only be a good thing going forward.”
Reporters repeatedly asked Claypool if the money would come from the city, but he would not discuss the source of the local revenue. Claypool said he wanted to keep the pressure on state lawmakers to finalize a new school funding formula.
Ald. Howard Brookins (21st Ward), who chairs the City Council’s Education Committee, said Friday that he has “more questions unanswered than answered.”
Mayoral spokesman Matt McGrath said any help given to CPS “will not come at the expense of the city’s long-term financial stability.”
In May, Emanuel looked poised to provide some money from city coffers as the school district faced a $729 million teacher pension payment and was short on cash. Instead, CPS borrowed $387 million from JPMorgan Chase. The cost of that short-term loan was steep.
Sarah Karp covers education for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter at @WBEZeducation.