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Board lays off 1,400 school staff... Revenge for forcing pension payment?

At the same time the Chicago Board of Education was making the mandatory payment of $634 million to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, officials of Chicago Public Schools announced that 1,400 teachers and other school personnel were being laid off. The Chicago Teachers Union responded immediately with the following press release:

IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Stephanie Gadlin

June 30, 2015 312-329-6250

Mayor Emanuel blindsides teachers by cutting 1,400 in retaliation for making the school district’s $643 million pension obligation

CHICAGO – The Chicago Teachers Union released the following statement upon learning from media that interim schools CEO Jesse Ruiz allegedly intends to lay off 1,400 educators on Wednesday. The CTU labor agreement expires in three and one half hours.

“We are blindsided by reports that the district intends to lay off 1,400 public school educators, given that we just met with them yesterday and there was no mention of this action. These layoffs prove that the Board never intended to make the pension payment in good faith and that they are using this to justify more attacks on our classrooms,” said Karen Lewis, president of the CTU. “Putting 1,400 people out of work is no way to balance a budget and resource our schools. This is going to hurt our students and the most vulnerable children in our district. These cuts are a result of a history of poor fiscal management by the Board of Education. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked board has led this district over a financial cliff.

“We are outraged at this deceptive action that only furthers the distrust teachers, parents and students have with the Board. We thought it suspect at the time that the Board was pressuring us to sign off on an agreement on yesterday, before we had a complete agreement. This is retaliatory and unnecessary because (the mayor) refuses to seek revenue options to stabilize CPS. ”

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Comments:

July 1, 2015 at 1:51 PM

By: Rod Estvan

Odd statement on layoffs

While I agree that the layoffs are a very bad thing for educating children, none the less I found it odd that the CTU statement indicates the union was "blindsided," by these proposed layoffs. The reason its odd can be found in this CTU press release dated June 23: http://www.ctunet.com/blog/no-deal-ctu-cps-board-of-ed-chicago

In that release the union said "What we’re asking for speaks to the very heart of our profession—which is being able to provide high-quality education for our district's 400,000-plus students. Instead of making a deal with us, they’ve made threats—threats to terminate 3,000 educators; threats to increase our class sizes; threats to eliminate our pension pick-up; and threats to enforce another $200 million worth of cuts."

Its hard to argue CPS blindsided the union after issuing that statement seven days ago. It is also correct for the union to point out the educational consequences of these layoffs, which are 1,600 less than the CTU discussed last week.

CPS may be entering its death spiral right now, a consultant’s report commissioned by CPS (the Ernst & Young report) made public on June 20th presents a cash flow analysis of CPS is really bad. It has not been updated to reflect the $1.1 billion in tax anticipation debt authorized by the Board last week.

For years reporters like George Schmidt have been asking to see the CPS cash flow documents, but they were always protected from FOIA by being marked draft or tentative. To see this report go to http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2015/06/24/cps-financial-disaster its on page 14.

Rod Estvan

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