About 950 Chicago Public Schools employees — 350 of them teachers — were being notified Monday they’re being laid off.
The layoffs of the teachers and 600 school support staffers are tied to staffing changes at schools that have seen enrollment decline or changed programs and are part of schools’ annual budgeting process, said Michael Passman, a spokesman for the financially troubled school system. High schools laid off 116 teachers and elementary schools 240.
Meanwhile, CPS’ full operating budget for the coming year, which schools chief Forrest Claypool has said would be made public Monday, won’t be released.
“We are doing this to allow Springfield more time to resolve the statewide education funding crisis before we ask our board to vote on a budget,” Passman said.
None of Illinois’ public schools will get state funding until the governor and General Assembly agree on a new formula for distributing it, and they’re still negotiating a solution. The Legislature passed a formula aimed at giving more money to poor districts, including CPS, and agreed to pay CPS’ normal pension costs like every other district.
Districts are supposed to see their first payments on Aug. 10, but Gov. Bruce Rauner changed parts of the bill last week with an amendatory veto.
State law requires CPS to approve its operating budget before Sept. 1. A Chicago Board of Education meeting slated for Aug. 23 is being postponed.
Passman said the number of open teaching positions is greater than the number of teachers being let go.
According to Stacy Davis Gates of the Chicago Teachers Union, 362 classroom aides were let go, along with 221 members of SEIU Local 73, which represents special education aides and security guards.
She said it’s past time for the mayor to find a local funding solution.
“Ultimately, the mayor has to stop waiting on a man who allowed the entire state to go without a budget for two years,” Gates said. “If we’re waiting on Bruce Rauner to figure out how to equitably fund CPS, it’s not going to happen.”
CPS will host four job fairs for teachers and support staff in coming days. Historically, about 60 percent of laid-off teachers are rehired to full-time positions. Another 23 percent work as substitute teachers.
The district may not be done laying off staff. A final enrollment count will be taken on the 20th day of school, which this year falls on Monday, Oct. 2. Since CPS allocates money to school for each student they have, schools that don’t meet their enrollment projects will see their budgets drop and could lose more staff then.