Protesters slam CPS budget cuts, want TIF surplus shifted to schools

CTU organizer Rebecca Martinez speaks about CPS budget cuts and misused TIF Funds outside CPS headquarters Wednesday. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times.

Victoria Rosario, a music teacher at Philip Rogers Elementary School, knew her school wasn’t the only one making budget cuts after Chicago Public Schools released its budgets for next year.

Wednesday, before a Chicago Board of Education meeting, she gathered with other teachers to protest CPS cutbacks she believes are intentionally starving out schools like hers.

“If our schools were funded properly they would work well,” Rosario said.

To close the budget gap, Rosario and others are pushing leaders to support a proposed ordinance that would move surplus tax-increment financing funds to CPS schools.

“We have a $300 million budget deficit and we’ve seen these hits take major tolls on our students and communities,” said Erin Young, who teaches at Luther Burbank Elementary School.

Fifth-grade teacher Marlena Ceballos (far left) joined other protesters outside the Chicago Public Schools board meeting Wednesday.
| Rachel Hinton/For the Sun-Times

Young, who works with students with special needs in kindergarten through second grade, said Burbank has lost positions and has to weigh cutting after school programs in order to save money, a decision she calls “nightmarish.”

In Little Village, Marlena Ceballos, a fifth grade bilingual education teacher, says that on top of managing cuts to their budget they also have to provide emotional support to their students.

“I’ve had students come to me crying on their recess because they’ve witnessed [immigration officials] rip away their family members in front of them,” Ceballos said. “Teachers have to deal with this burden on top of all the additional burdens the board continues to throw at us.”

“We have the third largest economy in the U.S.,” Young said. “The decision we need to make is where we’re investing that money and it needs to be in our students, in our neighborhoods and in our communities.”

Previously from Chicago News