CPS approves $5.7 billion budget

CPS unanimously passed a $5.7 billion budget Wednesday. (WLS)

Parents and teachers took to the streets after CPS administrators unanimously approved a $5.7 billion spending plan Wednesday.

It's a budget that even the newly-appointed Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool admits is less than ideal.

"We need the State of Illinois to step up and do the right thing when it comes to pensions and education funding. State of Illinois is dead-last in the country when it comes to education funding relative to poverty," Claypool said.

In approving 2016 budget Wednesday, the already debt-ridden school district took another step to issue more than $1 billion in bonds and approve a measure to boost its property taxes to the maximum allowable amount. Most glaring of all, however, is the $500 million in help from the state that CPS has written into the budget, but is not likely to get.

"If any parent who is watching this made their household budget work that way - well, I don't know how I'm going to make my rent, I don't know how I'm going to feed my family, but maybe I'll win the lottery - they would need to have their head examined," said Jesse Sharkey, Chicago Teachers Union.

Meanwhile, CTU members and others protested what they said is not just an irresponsible budget, but some of the cuts contained within, such as the funding for students with special needs.

"Without those services I wouldn't have been able to not only talk to friends properly, or make friends period, I wouldn't have been able to go to college and achieve some of the goals I've achieved today," said DJ Gordon, Advanced Youth Leadership Power W3.

For the CTU, the solution is a clear, but unwelcome one.

"They need to tax the rich. They need more revenue for the schools. If they don't do that, we're not going to have a public school system halfway through the year," Sharkey said.

If the desired state money does not come through, CPS has threatened even more borrowing and more job cuts than those already included in the current budget.

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