Emanuel: CPS will open in fall despite money problems

Sarah Schulte Image
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Emanuel: CPS will open in fall
Mayor Rahm Emanuel told parents that despite the money problems, schools will open on time this fall.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Another casualty of the budget crisis could be Chicago Public Schools. But on Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel told parents that despite the money problems, schools will open on time this fall.

As members of the Chicago Teachers Union protest school cuts, inside Chicago Public Schools headquarters, CTU President Karen Lewis urged the school board to stop cutting and start raising revenue that does not involve borrowing at high interest rates. Lewis says loans to keep school open are costing CPS $350,000 a week in interest.

"We cannot continue to borrow so much that we end of destroying the district because you know you are not going to get any help from the governor right you know that," Lewis said.

"I'm not going to debate you on borrowing, it's something we don't feel good about," CPS School Board President Frank Clark said.

Despite Lewis' suggestion not to count on the governor's help, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool is urging Governor Rauner to sign a school funding bill that gives CPS and many other poor school districts equitable funding - calling it a CPS bailout Rauner plans to veto it. Claypool says the bill is no bailout, it's a compromise.

"The simple fact is that Chicago kids get $500 million less than state should provide us if they were providing funding on actual enrollment and shared enrollment," Claypool said.

For years, the CTU has been asking the city to use more tiff funds and reinstate the corporate head tax to fund CPS. And while other school districts are threatening to close its doors if the state budget stalemate continues, the mayor said CPS will stay open - but, he would not say how to pay for it.

"Chicago Public Schools will be open, kids will be in school for the full year and full day at every level," Emanuel said.

The Elgin School District, the 2nd largest in Illinois, says tapping into reserves will keep its schools open only until next winter.

Several Chicago alderman have also called on the mayor to reinstate the head tax to help fund CPS. Calling it a job killer, the mayor began phasing out the tax in 2011.