CPS To Layoff Nearly 1,000 Staffers

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Andrew Gill / WBEZ
CPS Logo
Andrew Gill / WBEZ

CPS To Layoff Nearly 1,000 Staffers

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Updated 4 p.m.

Nearly 1,000 Chicago Public Schools employees — including 356 teachers — are getting pink slips due to projected decreases in student enrollment and program changes, the district announced on Monday.

CPS said this is the lowest number of teacher layoffs in a decade. High schools, which are seeing the greatest enrollment declines in the district, are the hardest hit. High schools will lose 466 support staff and 116 teachers.

The Chicago Teachers Union says the depletion of staff from neighborhood high schools is another step toward their eventual closure. “It accelerates the exodus of black and brown people from the city, putting the lie to the mayor’s lip service on sanctuary in a city that shows nothing but contempt for the needs and rights of children of color,” the CTU said in a statement.

Historically, 60 percent of laid off teachers are rehired elsewhere in the district, CPS said.

The school district’s full budget also was expected Monday but CPS announced it would delay its release to allow more time for a state education funding standoff to be resolved. As a result, CPS will move its monthly board meeting back to the end of August, a highly unusual change for the district.

State lawmakers approved a budget last month for all government operations, but they are at an impasse over how to distribute money to school districts across the state. The first payments are scheduled to go out Aug. 10, but a deal isn’t expected by then.

The state legislature approved a historic new school funding formula earlier this year, but Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed parts of that bill last week. The Senate has 15 days to respond to his veto and then the House has another 15 days.

If both the House and Senate do not accept Rauner’s veto or override it, the bill then dies and the process of trying to figure out how to distribute the money starts again.

By delaying its budget release, CPS is buying time in the hopes of a quick resolution in Springfield, though that seems unlikely. The Senate isn’t expected to reconvene until the middle of next week.

And CPS can only hold off so long. State law requires the school district to publicly release its budget proposal 15 days prior to when the Chicago Board of Education votes on whether to accept it. The board planned to meet on Aug. 23, but CPS said on Monday it will push that meeting back to later in the month.

While CPS holds off on releasing its full spending plan, it has told principals how much money their schools will receive for the coming year. The school budgets are based largely on projected student enrollment in each building.

CPS estimates about 8,000 fewer students will be enrolled this year, a decline largely due to continued population loss on the South and West sides of the city.

CPS has yet to provide information showing which schools are laying off teachers and support staff. The district also hasn’t provided details on what particular support staff are losing their jobs. Support staff can include clerks, security guards, and teacher aides.

CPS plans to host four job fairs in the coming days for affected staff. CPS expects to post more than 500 teaching vacancies, which it hopes to fill before school begins on Sept. 5.

These layoffs, which are at individual schools, are different than position reductions for the district overall. How many fewer teachers and support staff will work across CPS this year won’t be known until the school district releases its full budget.

Sarah Karp covers education for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter at @WBEZeducation.