CPS (Says It's) Broke

Today’s big news is the projected $700M deficit that CPS has announced, which of course some of you will question.  There are also updates on the milk contract, school closings.  But the really big news is that CPS is finally going to go for a unified email system, after many years and many complaints.

Chicago school officials projecting huge deficit AP:  Chicago Public Schools officials say despite layoffs and other cost cutting, the system faces a $600 million to $700 million deficit next year.

CPS shortfall: ‘There is going to be pain’ Tribune:  Chicago school district’s deficit may be $700 million Despite cost cutting, layoffs and wholesale restructuring, Chicago Public Schools faces a budget deficit of up to $700 million in 2013, and officials said it could top $1 billion by 2014. “We are going to have to make tough decisions,” said spokeswoman Becky Carroll.

CPS budget for 2013 has huge shortfall Chicago Tribune: Despite severe cost cutting, scores of layoffs and wholesale restructuring last year,Chicago Public Schools faces a budget deficit estimated at $600 million to $700 million in 2013, with the cost of a longer school day still unknown, officials said.

Some CPS students want a voice in grading their teachers Sun Times: A group of Chicago Public School students Tuesday demanded that student opinions about the effectiveness of their teachers be slowly folded into a new teacher evaluation process due to start this fall. Since students are with their teachers every day, they are the best source of information about them, students from Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, or VOYCE, and the Mikva Challenge insisted. And some research suggests they have a point. However, students wouldn’t say exactly how much their opinion should count on a new Chicago teacher evaluation system currently under negotiation.

Parents: Longer School Day Is Bad For Kids CBS Local: Last year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools chief executive officer Jean-Claude Brizard engaged in a public fight with the Chicago Teachers Union over the longer school day. The union was infuriated when Emanuel and Brizard urged schools.

Emanuel moves to ban McMahon electric company from city work Chicago Sun-Times:
He and his children own McMahon Food Corp., which oversees milk delivery to the Chicago Public Schools under a $20-million-a-year contract. Frank J. McMahon faces no disciplinary action from the city, but the milk deal is now under review.

CPS to adopt single email system next fall Tribune:  After a one-year delay while Chicago Public Schools rebid the contract, the entire district will move toward a single email system beginning next fall. CPS officials say using the Google Apps system to provide a single email system for all staff and…

State Lawmakers Slam CPS Progress Illinois: State lawmakers pilloried Chicago Public Schools and CPS head Jean-Claude Brizard at a Springfield hearing yesterday, more than a month after the Chicago Board of Education unanimously approved 17 CPS school closings and turnarounds.

New CPS teacher evaluation system debated Chicago Tribune: “We are urging (Chicago Public Schools) to look more carefully at the research across the nation,” said Kevin Kumashiro, professor of Asian American Studies and Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


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  • By my calculation a $700 million projected deficit would be about 13.7% of CPS's FY2012 operating budget that was $5.11 billion. I estimated just based on the state flat lining funding for school districts CPS would have about a $102 million projected deficit, I am interested in where the additional $600 million is coming from. I assume that Tim Cawley will do a power point presentation today, he seems to like doing that.

    Hopefully he will present all of the assumptions the projected deficit is based on, I am most interested in his revenue estimates. Lastly, we should not get too excited about CPS's looming increase in pension payment obligations. It is likely that all school districts in the state will be faced with these dramatic increases and it is likely the General Assembly will figure out ways for school district to avoid paying these obligations immediately. I have heard several different proposals in Springfield including re-defining what is a fully funded pension system. Will this create problems for the pension funds down the line? The answer is yes, unless the funds get great returns on their investments.

    For teachers I guess the critical assumption is how much if anything is built into the budget for additional compensation for the longer school day. Wendy Katten, co-founder of the parent group Raise Your Hand I think had a good quote in the Tribune article today on the budget and how CPS will pay for the longer school day saying it made no sense. She got that right I think, but on the other hand if you pay teachers nothing for working a longer day and cut their benefits one can see how a longer school day could be paid for.

    By the way by my count CPS has declared it was going to have a deficit and cuts would be required to balance the budget every year back into the 1990s. I can't recall when if ever CPS did not have a projected deficit, it's a way of life.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    CPS did not claim deficits back in the early Vallas years. He was Daley's budget guy. During the early years of mayoral control, the school finance authority was neutered in exchange for CPS presenting its own balanced budgets.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    It is technically not legal for CPS to adopt a budget that has a deficit. I have all of the adopted budgets during the time Mr. Vallas was CEO and will take a look prior to adoption whether the Board made any claims of shortfalls. Because they are in paper form I will have to do it tomorrow.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    Danaidh I just pulled out of my files the very first budget that Paul Vallas approved, the 1995-1996 budget. If you go to page 19 you can read the following:

    "On July 1, 1995, when the new management team arrived, the Board was facing a General Fund shortfall of $150 million. With typical inflationary increases, the four-year shortfall would have totaled $1.0 billion. The recently concluded teachers' contract negotiations, would have increased the cumulative shortfall to $1.33 billion."

    The CPS eliminated this short fall by cutting the CPS budget by about 10% compared to the FY 95 budget or $180 million. In subequent year Mr. Vallas also went down to Springfield claiming CPS was facing a deficit for the new budget year and asked for increases in General State Aid. I can document that also.

    Danaidh your position is simply not correct, but even more interesting than being incorrect what made you believe Mr. Vallas did not claim deficits when Mayor Daley took control of CPS? Did you see a reference that claimed that?

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod, please read my post about the CPS deficit in today's story. Thanking you in advance.

  • a four-year math requirement is proposed in springfield, and then modified

    State news service: No four-years-of-math mandate, no waiver rejections http://ow.ly/9W4yl

  • fb_avatar

    The link for this story doesn't work. Can you repost so I can read this story? Thanks.

  • Union: CPS’ budget projections have lacked credibility for a decade

    CHICAGO – Today, the Chicago Teachers Union released the following statement in anticipation of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) intent to claim a nearly $700 million budget deficit next school year:

    “This is just another example of CPS playing hide and go seek with budget numbers, and since their numbers have lacked credibility for a decade, there is no reason to take them seriously today, either. Taxpayers deserve real conversations about how this District will offer students the high quality schools they need,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “The Board should file its proposed budget for public review in June and then we can begin this discussion.”

    “Just this year CPS falsely claimed in the press that it had a $724 million budget deficit but could not fully explain how they came to that number. Despite its alleged budget woes the District still found money to fund its longer school day Pioneer Program, turnarounds, and still have enough money to hire dozens of new staff in newly created departments,” she said. “We won’t know the financial truth until CPS files an audited statement—until then, we should take their projections with a grain of salt.”

    Today, teachers are picketing because they are tired of the disrespect and growing hostility they feel from the current CPS administration. More specifically, CPS proposes one of the longest school years in the country, nine straight weeks of consecutive instruction (without a much-needed break for students or allotted planning time for teachers); no professional development days during the school year; and have placed restrictions on report card pick up days, limiting teacher time with parents.

  • Agenda for today's board meeting - charter renewals for everyone http://ow.ly/9WbSt

  • Someone, anyone, please complete an audit of OSES. This department is not about children with disabilities. It is loaded with incompetent people who park their butts at schools and eat, talk on CPS provided cell phones and then shop online. They offer no viable solutions to any school level issues. Usually, they can't even answer a simple question regarding special education. They inanely chirp, "you must move more students into LRE 1". Whether the children can read or not is immaterial. LRE 1 is the new sermon on the mount and woe to the teacher who dares to question his/her holiness. This department is useless.

  • We've met some terribly unqualified or low-performing OSS-related workers, but we've also met some excellent ones who have literally saved students' lives. Hope CPS never throws the baby out with the bathwater. That's my big fear.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    We are on our fifth SSA and each one gets worse. Maybe they are better on the north side but at my south side school we have not been impressed with SSAs. If CPS wants to save monies no one will cry for the SSAs we have had to deal with over the past few years.

  • Where are the parents of students with disabilities? Who is monitoring the SPED monies? When will OSES get audited? How many people work for OSES and how many are qualifed/experienced? How many veteran SPED teachers are retiring? Will the replacements advocate for the children?

  • ISBE is currently in a year long process of a fiscal analysis of how CPS spends its block grant money. The end result could be a reduction in funding to CPS. Legally this is a complex issue and Access Living will likely support CPS in opposing any cuts from the State based on federal funding requirements that are too complex to discuss on this blog. I know the ISBE staff involved in the fiscal audit, but I am not going to hand out their email addresses for every special ed teacher in Chicago to contact them.

    School based special education teachers who are complaining about the level of administrative staff should probably take the time to read the special education budget reviews I have done for Access Living for 5 years running. Substance has reprinted most of them and Access Living has most of them on its website. Both at the network (or before them the regions) level and at the central administration level for over ten years staff and costs have been reduced significantly. If you want to see the history of the reductions I recommend reading our reports.

    I liked this question in relation to CPS special education teachers where the posted stated "Will the replacements advocate for the children?" First off under many decisions made in our state relating to educational labor relations it has been found that special education teachers have no right to object to any school actions for children with IEPs for whom they are not listed as part of an IEP team. Therefore, school districts, not just CPS, are free to charge teachers who intervene or advocate for these students with insubordination if they chose to do so. Second, at the federal level free speech rights or advocacy rights relating to individual students for special education teachers only exist inside IEP meetings and at due process hearings for those students they are legally responsible for. Any thing outside that meeting is not legally protected under existing case law for advocacy relating to individual students.

    Most CPS special education teachers at IEP meetings and more importantly at due process hearings support the position of the school district when there are disagreements with families. My general advice to parents of students with IEPs is to understand that special education teachers should be treated with respect, but even if they talk supportive and gripe about things at the school the parents need to be very careful about that relationship because they are employees of the district and can be ordered by their employer to testify against your child's interests for additional services.

    Rod Estvan

  • C'mon CPS put a 5 + 5 offer on the table. A whole lot of us old timers will jump at the chance to retire and save you guys a whole lot of money. You throw all kinds of money around; throw a little at us and we'll help you out!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I'll bite! Offer me 5+5 and I'm out of here!

  • Rod, much advocacy is done at the school level by teachers who push to get a child services, question the status quo or empower parents to demand services at the IEP meetings. Veteran SPED teachers know how to state their case and get what is needed of the child by whatever means....many of these cases do not go due process because it is settled in house....I do realized that this should only be done by tenured teachers who have a clean house ( able to be scrutinized, observed or retaliated against by unscrupulous administrators/case managers)

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I continue to read countless complaints against OSES and the knowledge, or lack of, regarding their administrators. It is not about the number of administrators, but the leadership skills and qualifications for their positions. Request educational backgrounds, degrees, ISBE certifications and titles of the Directors and Officers in that department. Are they remotely qualified to hold those positions in District 299? (Probably only a few....at best.) CPS has a great opportunity for major change to improve services to children with disabilities and schools when Dick Smith retires in June.

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