On last day of school, questions about CPS's future linger

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The last day of school is typically a joyous occasion for kids, but this year Chicago Public School teachers and parents are facing questions about what happens in the fall. (WLS)

The last day of school is usually a joyous occasion for young students, but this year Chicago Public Schools children and their parents have a lot of questions about returning to school in the fall.

CPS is facing a $1 billion deficit and says schools with face huge cuts if the district does not get help from the state. Some teachers are left wondering if their schools will open or if they will be returning in the fall.

As students leave their classrooms for the last time in this school year, teachers pack up and wonder if they are returning in the fall. With threats of a 25 to 30 percent budget cut, principals are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.

"Obviously there's no solid plan right now, there's a lot of moving parts, but you know your school, you know your community, you know what's important to your school community and your students, and you just bake the best decisions you can," says Mira Weber, principal of Agassiz Elementary School.

Weber says her school stands to lose more than $800,000, which could mean cutting five to eight teaching positions. Parents are nervous about the thought of bigger class sizes and cuts to subjects like art and music.

"Name a single industry that can survive with a 25 percent budget cut, it's just not possible. And yet we cut sort of the most important thing, which is the education of our children," says CPS parent Tyler Huffman.

"It's time for the uncertainty of end, because the people who are suffering are the kids in the classroom," says Meg Mortensen, CPS parent and LSC chairman.

Agassiz, like many North Side schools, have the ability to fundraise. But parents say that is also not the solution to CPS's problems, because the majority of the district's schools don't have that option.

"The schools where the most impoverished kids go, the kids that have the least resources to begin with, are the ones who are going to bear the brunt of all these budget cuts," says Kate Kiszynski, CPS parent.

Parents, principals and teachers have spent months protesting to writing and calling local lawmakers to come up with a more equitable long-term funding solution, yet the political blame game continues. Tuesday local school councils from 140 schools sent a letter to CPS demanding answers.

"Maybe if these elected officials sent their kids to CPS, they wouldn't be playing politics with our kids," said Andrea Tolzman, local school council member, at a press conference.

Local school councils are asking Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS not to wait for state funding but instead come up with their own revenue solutions. The Chicago Teachers Union will have the same message at the core of their demonstrations Wednesday, which are planned in five locations throughout the Loop.

Related Topics:
educationcpschicago public schoolsschool fundingillinois budgetchicago teachers unionChicago - LakeviewChicago - Loop
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