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CPS: K-8 class size to stay same

June 28, 2010 3:04:11 PM PDT
Last-minute changes in state funding will save hundreds of teaching jobs in the Chicago public school system and help fund full-day kindergarten.

The Illinois State Board of Education restored some funding to CPS. While it will keep the elementary class sizes-- which could have increased to 35 students per room-- the same, it will not completely avoid job losses, cuts at magnet schools, or bigger high school classes.

"It put us in a position along with other cuts we made to be able to make these restorations," said Ron Huberman, Chicago Public Schools CEO.

Huberman said there is still a long way to go before the budget is balanced:

  • CPS remains $370 million in the red;
  • 1,200 teachers face layoffs (down from a proposed 2,700);
  • and high school classes will go from 31 students to 33.
  • Huberman and other education organizations say the Chicago Teachers Union needs to step up to keep that from happening.

    "So here we have a moment to challenge the Chicago Teachers Unit to do the right thing, give up pay increase right now," said Dr. Leon Finney, The Woodlawn Organization.

    The teachers union contract calls for a 4-percent pay raise this year. But the union's incoming president, Karen Lewis, who takes over July 1st, says teachers health care premiums are also increasing. Lewis says forgoing a raise actually means a pay cut.

    "We have asked over and over, 'Why don't you open the books with us?' So that we as educators can find some savings that won't hurt children," said Lewis.

    The Raise Your Hand Coalition, a grassroots parent organization, is not calling on the teachers to sacrifice, but is calling on state lawmakers and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to come up with some long term funding solutions.

    "I do not want to be here next year doing the exact same argument year after year after year just to remain status quo," said Patricia O'Keefe, Raise Your Hand Coalition.

    The teachers union and some parents believe tax increment financing money, known as tiff funds, should be used only for education.

    Ron Huberman says it is up to state lawmakers to change the law regarding tiff funds. He also said well over $1 billion in tiff spending is spent on CPS school repairs and expansions in over crowded neighborhoods.


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