CHICAGO (WLS) --Chicago Public Schools principals have received their budgets for the new school year. There is some relief that the news is not as bad as feared.
Money from Springfield and a property tax hike have helped alleviate big cuts to CPS, but principals still must manage their schools with less money than last year's budgets. Many say it's better than the devastating cuts they faced a few weeks ago.
Carrying blue folders with their budgets inside, Chicago Public School principals left meetings Wednesday relieved that the doomsday cuts CPS threatened won't happen.
"I think once the state came through, I think a lot of the stress dissipated it wasn't going to be as bad," said Mira Weber, principal at Agassiz Elementary.
However, principals must continue to work with the same amount of money they were left with after last February's mid-year cuts. Because budgets are based on per-pupil funding, some schools lost some money because of lower enrollment - though, principals say they can handle it because it won't affect the classroom.
"At Von Steuben, we will be focusing on making things more efficient, waiting a year to buy more texts books, less overtime. But we won't have to cut any positions," said Laura Lemone, principal at Von Steuben High School.
While the school budgets spare the classroom, CPS remains $300 million in the hole. Yet CPS CEO Forrest Claypool promises to balance the budget by the time school starts, though, he was vague on how he plans to do that.
"In August we will put entire budget in full, we will have greater detail. You'll see everything we've done to bring the budget into balance," Claypool said.
Claypool is also hopeful the balanced budget will include a new teachers contract that offers raises, but asks for sacrifices as well.
"Hopefully, CTU leadership will see that the state has stepped up, taxpayers have stepped up and we need them to step up, too," Claypool said.
Stepping up may mean teachers contributing more to their pension fund. CPS remains in contract negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union.
In a written statement Wednesday, CTU criticized the district's school budgets saying a short-term fix from Springfield cannot resolve the long-term damage that's been done to CPS by the school board and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.