CPS principals get budget, schools slated to open on time

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Public Schools officials are promising that classes will start on time regardless of whether a critical funding law is enacted in Springfield.

On Thursday, CPS principals received their budgets for the upcoming year. As they left Westinghouse College Prep High School, most declined to talk and the few that did painted a positive picture.

"It's going to manageable something we can work with, we'll be ok," said Jose Torres, principal of Marsh Elementary.

"For us it looks very good looks like we are breaking even from last year, we have had enrollment growth and that has helped us," said Joe Powers, principal of Jones College Prep.

Because budgets are based on per-student spending, schools with enrollment growth get more money but with a 8,000-student population decline, others schools will not.

"As always, you will see ebbs and flows based on the unique characteristic," said CPS CEO Forrest Claypool.

Overall, CPS said this year's budget does include a $200 increase per pupil, but most of that goes toward teacher pay hikes. There are also some increases in special education funding, which the Chicago Teachers Union said is good news. But, the budget is based on a Springfield school funding bill that Gov. Bruce Rauner said he plans to veto.

"For a third year in a row, CPS leaders have provided a budget without having any idea how to pay for it," said Karen Lewis, CTU president.

Lewis is concerned about possible mid-year cuts.

On Thursday, on a cross-city bus tour, union members once again urged the city to use Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds and reinstate the corporate head tax as a way to fund schools.

CPS promises even if money doesn't come from Springfield, schools will stay open all year -- principals are counting on it.

"It's difficult for all of us because we are trying to make do and work what is available," Powers said.

While CPS and several statewide school districts hold out for a state school funding bill, Gov. Rauner said he will veto it because he believes it is a bailout for CPS.

Claypool points out the legislation gives more money to dozens of downstate districts.

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