CPS set to announce layoffs Friday

The state budget battle hits Chicago schools as CPS is about to announce hundreds of layoffs. Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis joined Good Day Chicago to talk about what it means.

FOX 32's Craig Wall contributed to this report.

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Public Schools will lay off some of its central office staff this week as it deals with its precarious financial state, the head of the district said Thursday.

The announcement by district CEO Forrest Claypool came a day after top Illinois Republicans called for a state takeover of the financially troubled school district, which has a nearly $1 billion budget deficit that could lead to thousands of teacher layoffs and a strike.

Claypool did not say how many people, including administrative staff, would be laid off Friday, but teachers are not expected to be among them.

"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," Claypool said. "Every department at CPS will have to do more with less, as we streamline administrative functions in an effort to prevent cuts from reaching our classroom doors."

Claypool says district officials will continue to work with the Chicago Teachers Union and the state to find a solution to the budget crisis.

Union vice president Jesse Sharkey spoke to FOX 32 on Thursday regarding the layoffs.

"We're extremely worried about these layoffs. We think it's the tip of a much larger iceburg of school cuts to come and it's a step in the wrong direction," Sharkey said.

Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said Wednesday they'll introduce legislation that would give the Illinois State Board of Education control over the nation's third-largest school district.

Democrats, who hold big majorities in both chambers of the Illinois Legislature, blasted the plan almost immediately. Senate President John Cullerton called the idea a distraction from the state's other problems.

The teachers union sees the layoff announcement as an implicit threat lobbed into negotiations between Republicans and Democrats.

"Well, explicit in some ways, they're saying either you get a contract with us on deeply concessionary terms or we're gonna layoff front line educators. And that's sort of we're gonna hit you with this rock, or we're gonna hit you with this stick, you get to choose kinda situation," Sharkey said.

The Chicago district also is in the midst of contentious negotiations with the teachers on a new contract. Union members last month overwhelmingly authorized their leaders to call a strike if needed, which was an attempt to pressure the district to avoid layoffs or severe cuts. The union, which went on strike in 2012, says a walkout would still be months away.

The following is a statement from CPS CEO Forrest Claypool:

“Tomorrow – as we continue to work with the teachers union and Springfield on solutions to our budget crisis – we are prioritizing the immediate needs of our schools and moving forward with painful layoffs to the Central Office and administrative staff.

“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. Every department at CPS will have to do more with less, as we streamline administrative functions in an effort to prevent cuts from reaching our classroom doors. These cuts will consolidate some functions and challenge the district to continue delivering services.

“As we start the second semester, it is critical to keep as many resources in the classroom as possible to protect our students’ academic gains.”

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