Chicago Public Schools bracing for massive cuts

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CHICAGO -- The tough news facing Chicago Public Schools just got a whole lot tougher. Principals are being told to prepare budgets with cuts of more than 20 percent.

The district faces an enormous deficit of a billion dollars for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Because of the sheer size of it, the school board says its bringing principals into the loop earlier than it ever has before to ease the pain in Chicago classrooms.

Parents, teachers and students met on the North Side Thursday night for what turned out to be a very passionate meeting about the dire straits our school are in.

The school board is looking is to Springfield and state lawmakers who are in session and advancing emergency school funding legislation.  But if the phrase “too little, too late” ever applied, it does here. Lawmakers are working on $200 million out of a billion dollar shortfall when CPS’ real problem is with the state’s funding formula. In a statement it says:

 As our students are making record progress, there is no question that without Springfield funding, these cuts would jeopardize their gains .. While we continue to work with lawmakers in Springfield, we also urge school communities to contact their elected officials and encourage them to fix the state’s broken funding formula that discriminates against Chicago children and costs the District more than $500 million a year.

By law, Chicago Public Schools has to pass a budget by August 1. It has to be balanced, so that billion dollars needs to be found.

In another unusual step aimed at putting pressure on Springfield, the Board of Ed has put data about what it calls the state’s unfair funding formula on its website for parents along with information on reaching their state reps.