CPS set to announce layoffs Friday, according to district email – Chicago Tribune
Chicago Public Schools plans to announce a long-anticipated round of job cuts Friday that the district says will affect “central office and administrative staff,” not teachers.
The layoffs are part of the district’s plan to reduce expenses and borrow hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to lessen the likelihood of classroom cuts in the face of what officials say is a $480 million budget gap.
“We do not take these actions lightly, but as we ask others to do their part, we are doing everything in our power to put our fiscal house in order,” district CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement.
CPS offered no further details on the layoffs. In an email sent to Claypool and other top district officials that was obtained by the Tribune, spokeswoman Emily Bittner laid out the plan for releasing the information.
The district intended to issue a statement Thursday “when news leaks” about Friday morning meetings on the announcement, then follow up with a broad overview of the layoffs Friday morning. Additional information on the job cuts was to be released “EOD” — at the end of the day.
The memo is another indication of how Mayor Rahm Emanuel‘s administration works to control the flow of information to reporters and the public. Releasing news late Friday reduces time for reporting on an issue and puts stories out to the public on the weekend, when people are less inclined to be following the news.
CPS officials say they are making about $80 million in nonclassroom cuts, with roughly half of those savings coming from cuts to the district’s central office. The district is asking the state to cover the bulk of its budget shortfall.
So far the state has shown no indication it will come to the district’s aid. On Wednesday, Gov. Bruce Rauner and Republican legislative leaders proposed a plan that would authorize a state takeover of school district finances and also provide a path for the system to declare bankruptcy. City officials including Emanuel and Claypool were quick to shoot down that proposal, as was Democratic state Senate President John Cullerton.
The proposed bureaucratic layoffs come as negotiators for the school system and Chicago Teachers Union continue to bargain over a contract to replace one that expired June 30. Both sides have agreed to enter, on Feb. 1, a final stage of negotiations that must occur before teachers can carry out a threat to walk off the job. If that goes as scheduled, a potential strike could not occur until the end of May.
Claypool has acknowledged that talk of 5,000 teacher cuts is unfounded, but said principals would determine which staff members to lay off and what programs to end if the district does make classroom cuts.
Tribune reporter Hal Dardick contributed.