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Source: DNA Info Chicago

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CPS Slashes School Budgets By $46 Million Halfway Through School Year

Chicago Public Schools officials said Monday they would slash $46 million from schools’ budgets as they scramble to fill the hole blown in the district’s budget by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of $215 million officials had been counting on.

Officials said they would freeze half of schools’ discretionary funds, which can be used to purchase textbooks and technology as well as to pay for field trips and non-salaried staff.

Officials did not immediately release a breakdown of how each school’s budget would be effected.

This is the second year in a row Chicago Public Schools officials have cut schools’ budgets in the middle of the school year. CPS had counted on the $215 million vetoed by Rauner to pay employees’ pensions when that bill comes due in the summer.

The school district will save another $5 million by canceling professional development events for the district’s central office staff.

The School Board is expected to consider the cuts at its Feb. 22 meeting. CPS, which has a low credit rating, would be hard-pressed to borrow money, forcing officials to impose cuts at schools across the city or increase taxes.

Last month, Claypool ordered four unpaid furlough days for all school district employees to save $35 million. The first unpaid day was Friday, and more than 100 teachers protested outside the mayor’s office.

School district CEO Forrest Claypool blamed Rauner.

“Governor Rauner’s actions cement a racially biased funding system that is also the worst in the country for children living in poverty,” Claypool said in a statement. “Governor Rauner did not create this unjust system, but he has chosen to perpetuate it, violating the civil rights of hundreds of thousands of Chicago schoolchildren and threatening their futures.”

Rauner’s office did not immediately respond to the school district’s action.

Rauner blamed Illinois Senate President John Cullerton for torpedoing a compromise inked in June that allowed schools to open in September. Part of that deal promised Chicago schools an additional $215 million to help cover its pension obligations — in return for statewide “pension reform,” a long-held goal of the governor.

However, Cullerton said in a statement that he did not break the agreement and was willing to continue hammering out an agreement with the governor on pension reform.

In a message to legislators, Rauner said he would not sign the bill because it would amount to a “bailout” for CPS.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called Rauner’s action “reckless and irresponsible.”

Rauner and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan have been locked in a bitter fight over the Illinois budget.

The governor wants lawmakers to adopt his agenda, which he says will spur business growth in Illinois as part of a budget agreement. Democrats have refused, and the impasse lasted nearly two years.

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