By Andre Jones
As of the new school year, 956 Chicago Public School (CPS) employees – including 356 teachers – will be laid off.
Michael Passman, a spokesperson for CPS explained that the layoffs were tied to staffing changes at schools within the system that have experienced a decline in enrollment or changed programs and are part of the schools’ annual budgeting process. CPS is laying off 116 high school teachers and 240 elementary school teachers. Additionally, 134 elementary school support personnel as well as 466 high school support personnel will also be laid off.
Though the layoffs will definitely happen, the unveiling of CPS’ annual budget will have to wait until the state takes action on school funding. Until the governor and General Assembly can agree on a new formula for distribution, none of the Illinois schools will receive state funding. “We are doing this to allow Springfield more time to resolve the statewide education funding crisis before we ask our board to vote on a budget,” Passman said.
While they are still negotiating a solution, the Legislature passed a formula designed to give more funding to poor districts – which would include CPS – while also agreeing to pay CPS’ usual pension costs the same as other districts. Schools will receive $200 more per student during the 2017-18 school year than during the previous school year, even though the CPS budget will shrink by around $43 million, according to state officials. The reduction in the budget comes on the heels of an expected enrollment drop of 8,000 students.
“While these steps are part of the normal annual staff movement between schools, CPS recognizes that our school communities will feel the impact of these changes,” CPS said in a statement. “After all staff have been notified, the district will provide a full school-by-school breakdown of the personnel impacts.”
According to CPS, layoffs occur before every school year due to expected changes in enrollment and school programs. Nearly 60 percent of teachers who were laid off usually find another position at a CPS school.