Source for info on cutting gifted/magnet/classical programs

March 4, 2010 at 10:38 pm 5 comments

OK, before my son gets totally blacklisted from the SE high schools (probably too late for that,) here’s the article that got me wondering about the gifted/magnet program below.  Speculation is that Huberman is talking about this as a last resort situation.  But truly, I cannot blame him.  These are serious times.  We’re living above our means (both CPS and the city of Chicago as a whole.)  Something’s gotta give.  It’s just reality, people.

Huberman sounds school budget alarm; confirms 500 more layoffs Posted By Sarah Karp On Thursday, February 25, 2010
In CPS Administration
No stranger to doomsday budget predictions, CEO Ron Huberman issued a big one Thursday, saying that the state’s huge shortfall announced Wednesday will trickle down to the district’s deficit, bringing it to nearly a billion dollars next school year.

To prove that they are “fiscally responsible,” CPS officials said will layoff 500 more central office and citywide staff over the next two weeks and force those remaining to take an additional three weeks unpaid leave, bringing their furlough days to more than a month. District officials refused to say which positions were going to be cut as they haven’t been finalized and the staff not yet informed.

In return, Huberman wants state lawmakers to provide more money, either by prioritizing current funds or passing a tax increase. He also wants legislators to alter the law that specifies what CPS must pay into the teachers’ pension fund. This year’s obligation is $500-plus million. Huberman several changes could reduce that amount by $300 million.

CPS’ pension obligation is a perennial issue, but in the past the teachers’ union has opposed legislative changes because they worry about keeping the pension solvent.
Huberman hopes it will be different this year. He called on the union to support the district’s efforts at reducing the pension obligation. He also wants the teachers’ union to give up the 4 percent pay raises they negotiated in the last collective bargaining agreement.

But this will be an incredibly difficult year to get more money or concessions from state lawmakers or Chicago union leaders, all in the midst of running for re-election.

Huberman said he will be heading down to Springfield as early as next week to press his point. But Gov. Pat Quinn and House Speaker Mike Madigan have already said they aren’t going for a tax increase this year.

And late Thursday CTU Union President Marilyn Stewart began pushing back.

“I want to make it clear that we will not agree to any proposal that either destroys our contract or fails to maintain the integrity of our pension system,” she said in a statement.  “Nor will we tolerate the implied threats being made by Mr. Huberman that he may have to cut programs and services for our students or lay off teachers.”

Huberman can force the union back to the bargaining table by declaring a fiscal emergency, but chief labor relations officer Rachel Resnick stressed that district officials would like the union to willingly come to the table.

Huberman emphasized that all the things he outlined Thursday need to happen in order for the district to balance its budget, which is required by state law.

“We are talking and, not or,” he said.

If Huberman doesn’t get everything he wants, he warned he will be forced to take drastic actions. He would not say what big items he would target in a worst-case scenario.

But he displayed a breakdown of how much the district would save by increasing class sizes and how much it would save by doing away with specific programs. Among the areas he highlighted: $49 million for gifted and magnet schools, $11 million for after-school programs and $89 million by closing 100 schools and opening no new charter or turnaround schools.

“I am not saying we will cut these specific programs,” Huberman said. “But all that is left is class sizes and programs. This is incredibly serious.”

Huberman has been dealing with severe budget issues since he was appointed to the helm last January. Coming into the 2009-2010 school year, he promised to trim the budget by $160 million.

This summer, he laid off 536 central office and citywide employees. By mid-year, over the last couple of weeks, he said he carried out another $64 million. How he did this is unclear. (CPS officials promised to provide details by the end of the business day Thursday, but did not.)

Now, Huberman says he will layoff another 500 people at a savings of about $25 million. District officials said this move showed that central administration was willing to sacrifice for the greater good.

“We are not just cutting the fat,” said Alicia Winckler, chief of human capital. “We don’t have 500 extra people. These are not people in schools, but people in the schools will be impacted.”

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Short break from obsessing – school lunch comedy The Selective Enrollment numbers

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. chicago parent  |  March 6, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Last year (2009) the inflation rate was -.4%. That’s right, itwas negative. According to the CPS website, there are approximately 24,600 teachers in Chicago & their average salary is $75,000. Chicago teachers were awarded an across the board increase of 4%, which translates into $80 million dollars. I would like to see more discussion of why anyone would think that such an increase would be warranted. The single biggest number in the budget is people & there must be some effort to contain costs.

    Somehow per pupil spending in the United States is the highest in the world, the school day is the shortest (180 days) in comparison to 200 days in Europe & 225 in India. Here in Chicago we have the shortest day in the country. Chicago school teachers have consistently voted in their schools to not extend the school day so most students have little — 15 minutes of recess per day. In academics the results show that we’re dead last in the US or very nearly there in comparison to the top 30 industrialized countries. The other big issue is making better use of the resources that we have to achieve better results.

  • 2. hopeful  |  March 10, 2010 at 8:40 am

    I agree that the school day needs to be longer, that recess needs to be mandatory and that bad teachers need to be fired.

    I sort of agree that the CTU needs to make some kind of concessions regarding the 4% increases that were negotiated in better economic times. My worry is that NEXT year, when we repeat this whole scenario AGAIN, that the city will come back to us teachers AGAIN, asking for more concessions. This is a scary precedent for us. My other concern is if workers are asked to lower pay or freeze pay in bad times, will there be extra pay in good times? Do we really need pretty flower boxes downtown or do we need teacher assistants in overcrowded classrooms?

    In terms of actual numbers, I added this up. For me, my pay as a teacher with a graduate degree on step 5 (I actually have 15 years in the field, but Chicago, like all districts, does not let teachers carry in all of their years of experience from other school districts) would be around 65K. A 4% raise would be about $2500. The way I see it is this. I spend THAT much money every year on items like paper clips, ink for the printer, books, educational games, laminating, copies, etc…..If the state and city will pay for every single thing I need in my classroom every year, I have no problem giving up my raise. But it is awfully hard to say they can have it back when I have to purchase that all on my own. When my classroom ceiling leaks for several years and I have to have all the desks clustered around the leak so kids don’t get dripped on. When my school wants me to pitch in to have the teacher parking lot plowed in the winter because its “not in the budget”. Seriously?
    I will happily give back my raise when, instead of my principal asking teachers to do after school clubs, on a volunteer basis, if I can earn my hourly rate.
    Oh, and Huberman and his ‘” administrators”….some of them have expense accounts. For WHAT? I open my own damn wallet to pay for things I need for my job, so can he! That needs to go. The company car needs to go. He can drive his own car like the rest of us.

  • 3. Coonley Mom  |  March 10, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    I believe Huberman has two cars and a driver (all paid for by CPS). Serioulsy? It would almost be funny, if it was not such a sad example of how the children of Chicago seem to be at the bottom of the priority list.

  • 4. chicago taxpayer  |  March 13, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Chicago’s school day is the shortest in the nation and the US school year of 180 days is one of the shortest in the world (compared to Europe’s 200, India’s 225 & China’s 250). Teachers around the city — nearly all schools have consistently voted down a longer school day that would provide a decent amount of recess. The short school day is burden to many working parents and a disadvantage to all students. Students in other parts of the country spend several more years in school given their longer school day. It’s not just a little thing — it’s a huge. The longer school year — well that’s apparently a huge disadvantage.

    The US pays the highest rate per student in the world & is pulling 27 out of 30 in achievement in the industrialized world. Teacher salaries set by seniority are a major disincentive to quality performance. Gym teachers with seniority paid more than math teachers. Principals with no education experience managing schools.

    The average teacher’s salary in the City of Chicago is $75K. That’s a decent amount of money for 3/4ths year of work plus a pension that is unheard of in the private sector.

    A poor quality product being delivered at a high price — not something that gives taxpayers warm fuzzy feelings for teacher unions or teachers that complain about money problems.

    Feels like Detroit. Competition is the only remedy. Charter schools & vouchers. Elimination of seniority based pay in favor of performance based pay. Incentives to attract the top 10% of graduates into teaching, not the bottom 10%.

  • 5. Mayfair Dad  |  March 31, 2010 at 9:26 am

    State of Illinois:

    – #49 in funding education
    – #5 in teachers’ salaries

    And CTU unwilling to concede to a longer school day, recess, etc.
    Love teachers. Hate their union.

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