CPS prepares to cut more spending, staff

Chicago Public School principals began getting the bad news Tuesday that they must prepare to cut spending and staff by 26 percent, starting with summer school.

Class size will grow and some programs will be eliminated.

Debbie Harris hopes her grandson will attend Kenwood High School. It's the most successful neighborhood high school on the South Side, with a coveted one-plus academic ranking from the Board of Education. But like every other Chicago Public School, it faces a devastating budget cut that eliminate 30 staff and teachers.

“Terrible!  I know that there's money in Springfield. And, you know, they just gotta cut from the top,” Harris said.

In a series of small meetings, Principal Gregory Jones told Kenwood's 140 staff, including 104 teachers, the school might have to cut nearly $3 million from its previous $12 million budget. Each remaining teacher would have many more students per class. Also on the chopping block is the very things that make Kenwood, Kenwood.

“Seventeen advanced placement courses, nine college courses, a national award-winning concert choir that can be impacted, an award-winning jazz band, an award-winning orchestra,” Jones said.

To accommodate all that, Kenwood's two buildings are open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Its students win millions of dollars in college scholarships each year. Four are Gates Millennium scholars this year, which is four more Golden Apple Foundation scholars.

The coming cuts could be smaller, if CPS wins more funding from the State Capitol. Mayor Emanuel said students have earned it.

“Record-high graduation, record-high ACT scores, record-high attendance, record-high educational gains in math and reading for 4th and 8th graders,” Emanuel said.

Gov. Rauner has rejected additional money for Chicago Public Schools, calling it a "bailout." A CPS spokeswoman said "Even as we continue to seek equal funding in Springfield, we must continue to plan for the worst - higher class sizes, loss of enrichment activities, and layoffs of teachers and support staff."