Sunday, February 28, 2010

Nearly Billion Dollar CPS Deficit!

The Chicago Public Schools are facing a nearly billions dollar deficit. The decline in revenue ($138 million) that the district experienced only accounts for 14.15% of this deficit, whereas a jump in salaries and pensions ($348 million) accounts for 35.69% of this deficit. What makes this all the more odious is that there is little or no connection between Chicago's generous per-pupil spending($11,300) and educational outcomes. So, we can assume that a large portion of the budget goes towards patronage laden administrative jobs and maintaining a hemorrhaging pension system.

Negotiations between private sector unions and businesses is generally dynamic, because they are directly negotiating with their own money. And union demands generally are bound to economic reality because of the simple realization that if the company is not economically viable it will go under and all will lose their jobs. On the other hand the CPS negotiates with teacher's unions with the tax payer's money, not their own. And all parties know that historically they could cover inflated salaries by raising revenues by increasing property taxes with little consequences, given the democratic machine's firm hold on Chicago.

Social programs should not so much be conceived as a transference of wealth from wealthy and middle class tax producers to the poor and working class tax consumers, but as a transference to a growing class of bureaucrats that administer the programs.

We have been promised school reform by teacher's unions and "experts" for 30 years with very little to show for it other than a rising deficit. It's time to try something different and give parents and students real choice. And perhaps more importantly, the $8,350 tuition (at St. Patrick's High School in Chicago) equals a per student saving of nearly $3,000 for tax payers.

More CPS job cuts as $975 million deficit looms

'INCREDIBLY SERIOUS' Teachers reject call for givebacks

February 26, 2010

BY ROSALIND ROSSI Education Reporter

To get ahead of what could be a whopping $975 million deficit next school year, Chicago Public Schools officials Thursday announced 500 mostly non-teaching job cuts -- and three weeks of furloughs for nonunion workers still left on the job.

Schools CEO Ron Huberman predicted an "incredibly serious'' fiscal year ahead and said he would need help from teachers and other unions to avoid "devastating effects'' on students.

Already, to make ends meet this year, the district is cutting back some spring non-varsity sports and eliminating lacrosse and water polo, officials revealed Thursday. A highly touted freshman orientation program is also being shortened.

With no new funding from Springfield, CPS officials projected a $700 million deficit next year. That gap could balloon to $975 million if Gov. Quinn wins a proposed 15 percent cut in state education funding, they said.

Fueling the dire projections:

• A $279 million jump -- a 91 percent hike -- in teacher pension payments.

• A $169 million increase in Chicago Teachers Union compensation, tied to 4 percent CTU raises.

• A $138 million drop in local tax revenues.

Without union concessions, more money from Springfield and pension relief, Huberman said, a "last case ... worst case scenario" would be bigger class sizes and teacher layoffs.

Increasing class sizes by one student, to a districtwide average of 31, would save $40 million and cost up to 600 teacher jobs, Huberman said. Boosting class sizes to 45 would save $270 million, but Huberman conceded many classrooms couldn't hold that many kids.

The teachers union would have to sign off on a pay freeze or furlough days, but increasing class size is an option CPS could exercise on its own. A relief value that would require legislative but not union approval would be a $300 million reduction in next fiscal year's pension payment -- a move Huberman insisted would still leave pensions adequately funded.

However, CTU President Marilyn Stewart, who faces re-election in May, quickly threw cold water on any idea of union givebacks.

"We will not agree to any proposal that either destroys our contract or fails to maintain the integrity of our pension system. Nor will we tolerate implied threats by Mr. Huberman that he may have to cut programs and services for our students or lay off teachers,'' Stewart said in a statement.

The looming deficit comes after CPS cut 557 central office and citywide jobs before the school year started and another 30 jobs and 132 vacant positions at midyear to balance this year's budget.

The newly announced job cuts and furloughs due in mid-March follow six furlough days and a pay freeze among most central office staff.

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