Lukewarm Budget Endorsement

Today’s news coverage is dominated by the Civic Federation’s lukewarm endorsement of the CPS budget proposal, which I’m sure the folks at Clark Street will be happy to use as part of their push for acceptance later this week.  What I’m not clear on/ don’t remember is whether staff or board members can make adjustments to the proposed budget, or whether it’s an all-or-nothing process.   Also unclear to me — is what would happen if the Board rejected or (more likely) delayed approval of the budget.

New report: CPS faces “enormous budget gaps” WBEZ:  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.”

Federation backs CPS tax hike, changes to teachers’ pension needed Sun Times:  The Civic Federation on Monday will support Chicago Public Schools’ $150 million tax increase because the school system has shown good faith in significantly cutting its budget, but it will call for dramatic changes in the teachers’ pension system to deal with expected future budget crises.

Watchdog Endorses CPS 2012 Budget Tribune:  The Civic Federation has analyzed the proposed Chicago Public Schools budget for the coming year and said it supports the plan, but it has concerns about the future.

CPS Faces ‘Fiscal Calamity,’ Budget Watchdog Warns CNC:  While the Federation said it supports the district’s $5.9 billion budget for fiscal year 2011, the report noted other threats to the district’s long-term financial position, including its repeated reliance on a reserve fund to deal with budget deficits.

Editorial: Make a longer day better for students Sun Times:  Despite the Chicago Teachers Union’s weak embrace of a longer day, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is absolutely right to make it a top priority for next school year. But a key question remains unresolved: How should schools use the extra time?

Community group has a rally for “better school day” Tribune:  Community organizations planned to rally in support of Chicago Teachers Union’s call for a “better school day” Thursday afternoon.

Quinn signs law on CPS closings and construction Tribune:  Chicago Public Schools officials will be required to give greater advance notice about planned school construction projects and building closings under a law Gov. Pat Quinn signed today.

Teachers, parents sound off on Chicago schools budget WBEZ:  I worked hard all those years. Why did I lose my job? Security guards, custodians and student aides clutched layoff letters—they’re part of .

Chicago Teen is the First in Her Family to Graduate From High School, Will … Fox Chicago:  Chicago Public Schools released 2011 ACT scores for the district Thursday. Of the 117 non-selective high schools, all seven of Noble campuses with junior classes were ranked in the top ten schools in the city of Chicago, including Pritzker College

Voice of the People, Aug. 22 Tribune:  I can’t recall the last time an article ran in your newspaper that was pro-teacher.

Quinn to sign school facilities reform CMW:  The Humboldt Park location is in the district of the bill’s sponsors, State Representative Cynthia Soto and State Senator Irene Martinez.

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  • Civic Federation clowns are the same ones who propose the unsustainable notion that charters are the way to go. They have to support Rahm and Brizard, or their charter buddies will not be getting the money they need from CPS.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    From the news above: "Chicago Public Schools released 2011 ACT scores for the district Thursday. Of the 117 non-selective high schools, all seven of Noble campuses with junior classes were ranked in the top ten schools in the city of Chicago, including Pritzker College Prep.:

    I'm still not sure this is a fair comparison. It may well be true that charter schools are not selective enrollment schools. But, I think we've seen enough evidence to assert that they are also NOT non-selective.

    Indeed, charter schools tend to be populated by the children of parents who take it upon themselves to be proactive in getting their child enrolled; often volunteer service or to pay additional fees and/or fines; and communicate in tangible ways just how important a good education is to their children.

  • What this means is that if anyone can retire in the next year or so, you probably should do so as changes to the pension system are virtually guaranteed and likely will be part of any new CBA. The fiscal mess that CPS is in is truly frightening and it does not bode well for current employees or students.

    There is absolutely no way for CPS to balance its budget in the future with declining enrollments and rising costs and provide the resources necessary to truly improve. A large consolidation of schools would seem virtually inevitable but made much more difticult by the new bill just passed. Any effort CPS makes to consolidate underutlized or underperforming schools will be met with community resistance on a scale never seen before as every community and LSC tries to hold on to what it has. A true PR nightmare that will obscure the fact that there is simply not enough money to keep all the schools open.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Anon writes: "A large consolidation of schools would seem virtually inevitable but made much more difticult by the new bill just passed."

    That law means nothing. It provides a December deadline--as opposed to going into spring before making the decisions. The Board already holds public hearings (where none of the actual Board members is required to be in attendance or even to read the transcripts). It's an unelected Board. There may well be community resistance, but the Board won't feel that pressure. They only do the mayor's bidding.

    The Mayor, Brizard, and Cawley have all made comments that there are more than 100 schools that are under-enrolled. There will definitely be closings next year regardless of the Soto law.

  • I think it is important for people to actually read the Civic Federation review of the CPS budget. Teachers will be very upset by some of the proposals for the pension fund. Those wanting more transparency in CPS costs relating to charters actually may cheer at points, those raising the TIF issue may also find what the Federation has to say to be extremely interesting. The Federation is very critical of the actual CPS budget itself and what it does not tell its readers. But the Federation, like Access Living is supporting the property tax increase.

    I do think the Federation could dig a little deeper on the expenditure side of the ledger and be far more critical of how CPS spends it funds. To read this report go to http://www.civicfed.org/civic-federation/publications/chicago-public-schools-fy2012-budget-analysis-and-recommendations

    There is no question that the increasing costs to CPS coming for the CPS pension fund will create a nightmare scenario. I totally disagree with the Federation's proposal to merge the CPS pension fund with the rest of the state's teacher retirement fund. That larger fund has been poorly managed and it would be a loser for retired CPS teachers and those to retire in the future. Such an action will result in litigation on the part of retired CPS teachers who stand to lose far more than they will gain in such a move. I do not disagree with the Federation that a crisis is coming however. Increasing the retirement age to 67 along with increased pension fund payments from teachers that the Federation proposes is a very bitter pill. As a registered lobbyist in the General Assembly I see very little hope for much help from that body, effectively we as a state are operating day to day with little cash on hand. Since I have no skin in this game it is easy for me to be analytical, but I guess teachers and retired teachers will be highly agitated by the Federation's proposals. If the stock market stays down and property values stay in the entire the situation with the fund will be only worse.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod: and any one else concerned:

    I called the pension board to get a statement of my pension from the almost 20 years working at CPS.. (I was laid off last year) (you know.. just short of that 20 years.. ) and not old enough to retire....and guess what... they can only go up to 2007.. from 2007-2010 no info is available... the man on the phone said they were in a lawsuit concerning this with CPS and that it was due to a new computer system...... what a mess......

  • In reply to Tamara:

    The arrogance of the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund has always amazed me. We have been unable to obtain an accurate estimate of our pensions for at least the last five years due to "switching over to Kronos/new computer system/new whatever. Why didn't the pension board sue to get this information years ago? They are supposed to work for us. Why does CTU have to do what they refused to do? Where is the accountability?

    Why is our insurance when we retire so much higher than other Chicago employees? If I want to keep my son on my insurance when I retire it is over $1,000.00 a month wherereas one can buy a retiree family plan from the city for $700.00 a month. Why the discrepancy?

  • email from CTU:

    CTU Negotiates Foreclosure Relief for CPS families; ‘Reasonable Compromise’ on Teacher Raises Rejected

    CHICAGO – During negotiations with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) today offered to accept a lower cost-of-living salary increase and also urged the school board to support our members and students who face foreclosure by ending its relationship with five banks responsible for the largest number of home foreclosures in the last two years. CPS negotiators refused to consider the proposals.

    Under the terms of its contract the CTU now has the right to terminate the current agreement—a measure that will be taken up at the union’s House of Delegates meeting on Tuesday.

    CTU President Karen GJ Lewis said that the proposed cost of living salary increase is based on the local consumer price index. She explained that instead of demanding that the Board restore the contractual 4 percent cost of living increase promised to school employees but denied them in June, the union will accept the lower figure which will save the board $25 million. The denied raises will lead to $1.3 billion in lost revenue to the local economy.

    “Even though the Board just gave huge raises to its top executives our teachers are prepared to do our share to help keep budget costs down while we continue efforts to improve schools and benefit the children we teach,” said Lewis. “We believe this is a reasonable compromise in this season of ‘shared sacrifice.’”

    FORECLOSURE RELIEF

    More than 40,000 homes are foreclosed in Cook County each year. Combined with the illegal lay-off of teachers these foreclosures contribute to housing insecurity for thousands of CPS employees and students. As part of its ongoing negotiations with CPS, the Union requested that the Board turn up the pressure on Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Deutsche Bank until these institutions agree to write down the mortgage principals and interest rates for all homeowners facing foreclosure within the school district to market value as a part of an affordable and sustainable loan modification program.

    "The decline of safe and secure homes greatly impacts the overall well-being of the children, educators and their families in our public schools. Their interests are our interests," said Lewis. “We urge the school board to stop doing business with the “big five” banks whose policies adversely impact our schools and neighborhoods.”

    CTU PROPOSALS

    CTU released details of the union’s six-point contract proposal following today’s negotiations between the six school unions and Chicago Board of Education representatives. Other points in the union proposal are:

    · CPS establishes a mutually-agreed recall policy for all CTU-represented teachers and staff that were laid off on or after July 1, 2010 by which qualified teachers and staff with the necessary certifications are recalled to any vacant bargaining unit positions before new teachers and staff are hired.

    · In addition to any other rights existing under the labor contract, all discipline imposed on CTU-represented teachers and staff without just cause, other than dismissal, removal and suspension pending removal, may be grieved and arbitrated under Article 3.

    · CPS shall not do any business with the five banks responsible for the largest number of foreclosures within the City of Chicago until they agree to write down the mortgage principals and interest rates for all homeowners facing foreclosure within the city to market value as a part of an affordable and sustainable loan modification program to prevent foreclosures. The aforementioned banks are Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Deutsche Bank.

    · No reductions from the prior school year’s funding to any educational programs in which CTU members are employed shall be imposed unless equivalent reductions are imposed upon CPS Charter Schools.

    · Effective July 1, 2011, all bargaining unit employees represented by the CTU shall receive a 2 percent salary or wage increase; and effective January 1, 2012, all bargaining unit employees shall receive an additional 2 percent salary or wage increase. [This is equivalent to a cost of living increase for School Year 2011-12]

    “While the City gives away hundreds of millions of dollars in tax subsidies to big developers and even more in profits for the big banks that wrecked our economy the Board seeks to strip us of our agreed upon raises and calls for longer work hours with no clear plan for compensation,” Lewis said. “Our proposal would go a long way to prevent budget actions that shortchange our students. They deserve a quality teacher in every classroom from day one and a curriculum that supports a better, smarter school day.”

  • The Sun-Times writes: "the teachers’ contributions to their pension funds would have to skyrocket from 2 percent to as high as 60 percent"

    Gee, I hope that's a typo. Sixty percent of my earnings going to my pension?

  • Alex ponders: "Also unclear to me -- is what would happen if the Board rejected or (more likely) delayed approval of the budget."

    The current fiscal year began July 1. As of today, the Board has already been operating for 53 days without a budget. If the Board should reject or delay approval of the budget (highly unlikely), CPS would continue to function just like it has since July 1.

  • I am glad that Alexander posted the CTU press release on the end of discussions relating to the CPS Board’s decision to revoke teachers 4% pay increase. I also read the Sun Times report on the ending of discussions between the CTU and CPS which included additional comments by CTU vice president Sharkey. So tonight the CTU House of Delegates will make a decision whether or not to terminate the current agreement. Given the impact of SB7 on the contract it may make little difference whether or not the delegates vote one way or another on this issue.

    I will say this much on the offer CTU made to CPS, which was effectively to give teachers a 2% increase for half the school year and the full 4% for the other half of the year. Since no offer CTU made to CPS on this issue was likely to be accepted, the deal offered was not sufficient to even make CPS look bad or greedy. A long time ago I suggested the CTU making an offer to loan the 4% raise to the CPS, while CPS would at this point have rejected that offer too, it would at least appeared to have gotten the money off the table for the loan period.

    CPS does not really have to bargain over this issue with the CTU in a meaning full way because the existing contract does not define what constitutes the basis for a fiscal emergency that triggered CPS’s right to revoke the raise.

    I thought the addition of raising the issue that “CPS shall not do any business with the five banks responsible for the largest number of foreclosures within the City of Chicago until they agree to write down the mortgage principals and interest rates for all homeowners facing foreclosure within the city to market value as a part of an affordable and sustainable loan modification program to prevent foreclosures,” was an interesting progressive proposal that I like. But I believe if the CPS had agreed to the raise proposal made by CTU and the only issue outstanding preventing a deal was the five bank provision the membership would have hung the CTU leadership for not dropping the bank provisions. The five bank proposal was largely a PR stunt that the Sun Times simply refused to even cover in its article, but that more progressive media outlets may eventually pick up on.

    Rod Estvan

  • "So tonight the CTU House of Delegates will make a decision whether or not to terminate the current agreement."

    What would the consequences be if the House of Delegates did, or did not, terminate the current agreement?

  • What contract?

    teachers are being terminated irregardless of seniority

    CPS is still hiring new teachers

    class size is not being followed

    special education is a disaster and there is no recourse through CPS, ISBE or Corey H......no one cares in CPS

    massive amounts of teachers have retired but older teachers are being let go to save money and being replaced by young teachers who do not stay

    we send failing students to summer bridge but everyone passes though CPS edit yet we are the fall guys

    teachers signed up to retire ( irrevocable, mind you) in 2012 and now we are not getting the raise so our pension will be impacted

    we work in deplorable conditions and have to file grievances just to use the restroom

    contract! where?

  • CPS is taking its death blow to schools for emotionally disturbed children like Montefiore school with this new budget. Rod? Any insight? What seats are open to these kids in private therapeutic schools? Will they be tuitioned out? Or just screwed (to quote Emanuel)?

  • A high ranking administrator at OSES is telling principals to "designate a person in the building for diapering and toileting" in response to the removal/non-IEP compliance of SECAS. CPS has sunk to new lows and I hope a parent files a lawsuit.

  • The CPS budget segment reports which list positions for special schools as a group do not show the large declines in positions teachers are reporting. I am going shortly to the Board meeting and I will make a point on this disconnect between what is written in the budget and the phone calls and emails I am getting on cuts in schools.

    Rod Estvan

  • Thanks Rod, for all that you do, for us.

    This is CPS' newest ploy to save monies on the backs of the children with disabiliities.

    IEPS are being rewritten ( case managers are culpable) to show NO pull-out minutes in a separate setting-this is CPS' definition of inclusion. Each SPED teacher has 27 children spread out into three rooms-no pull-out and co-teaching is being promoted. The children get no individual attention nor small group instruction because in these overcrowded rooms ( no space to have a small group not to mention the noise factor) of 34+ students the special education teacher is buttressing the gen ed program and acting as a disciplinarian. We receive funding for special education but the monies are being diverted to gen ed. This is so unethical and detrimental for the students with disabilities.

    Perhaps, this is CPS' way of forcing students with disabilities to drop out way before they age out-more money saved. CPS saves a teacher salary, the children get little or no services and AYP is not me. The beat goes on.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    The RTI initiative comes with no additional resources for teachers. It is a mandate that provides no additional support for our neediest children in the neediest schools. We are talking about qualified support teachers. This is piled on classroom teachers who are losing instructional time doing all the other assessments, for example in the early primary years.

    Has Brizard cut some of these bogus assessments like Dibels?

    Mazany, the interim CEO was correct that we are over assessing our kids at the expense of instruction. Get a clue Brizard!

  • As a parent of a child with an IEP in CPS, I can report that this is TRUE and has harmed my child. It is a complete farce! So, Brizard is going to get an F for his "goal" of following IDEA. Want to put money on Chicago reporters choosing to skip this story?

  • budget woes still to come, notes CNC

    http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/chicago-board-of-education-recap-executive-appointees-future-budget-woes-new-athletics/?

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