Chicago Public Schools impose spending freeze of up to $69 million

Feb. 7, 2017
School officials blame cuts on Illinois governor's failure to provide funding.

Without $215 million in funding it was counting on from the state, the Chicago school system is freezing spending by as much as $69 million at schools and the central office.

WBBM-TV reports that the spending freeze will limit funds for text books, field trips and part-time support staff.

“The harsh reality is we cannot run the school system the children of Chicago deserve with the funds that we are given,” Chicago Schools CEO Forrest Claypool says.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool

The frozen funds come from individual school’s non-salary accounts, and none will be greater than 5 percent. Cuts from the district's schools account for $46 million, and cuts from charter schools account for another $18 million. Cuts in teacher training make up the final $5 million.

"Our principals will do their best, but the spending cuts hurt," Claypool wrote in an email to parents. "Please understand that this means your principal cannot provide everything she or he knows should be available for your children. The principals are doing the best they can.

Claypool blames the $215 million budget gap on Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. In December, the governor vetoed a bill that would have sent $215 million to Chicago Public Schools for pension payments.

"Governor Rauner broke his word by blocking Chicago from receiving $215 million for our schools," Claypool's email asserted. "That $215 million was supposed to be a first step – just a first step --- toward treating your children fairly. That $215 million was supposed to be a first step toward providing your children with their fair share of the dollars Illinois spends on children in the rest of Illinois. But Governor Rauner broke his word and did not take even that first step."

Speaking to reporters, Claypool says Rauner is "clearly adopting Donald Trump’s tactics of attacking vulnerable citizens in order to score political points. He’s attacking the children of immigrants. He’s attacking racial minorities. He’s attacking the poor."

Rauner says Chicago's leadershlp is to blame for the financial troubles.

“Twenty years of financial mismanagement by the city cannot be blamed on someone trying to put Illinois on the right fiscal path,” the governor said in a prepared statement.

Video from WBBM-TV:

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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