Chicago Public Schools to announce layoffs today

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CHICAGO-- Chicago Public Schools plan to announce layoffs Friday, according to an email released by the CPS Office of Communication.

It is unclear how many jobs will be lost but they will not affect teachers. It is central office staff who are being laid off as part of a plan to avoid cuts in the classroom.

The president of the teachers union got the news Thursday and while any cuts are difficult, Karen Lewis says she understands.

“Well, I have heard it and I think the signal is they’re gonna try to keep cuts as far from the classroom as possible,” Lewis said.

In troubled times, one positive sign for public schools-- The Board of Education and The Chicago Teachers Union, reading from the same page.

However, it’s going to be a black Friday at CPS headquarters in the loop.

CPS CEO Forrest Claypool released the following statement Thursday:

“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.”

Govorner Bruce Rauner said “I believe if we get involved, we can take on the teachers union in Chicago. The mayor’s afraid of ‘em.”

There’s a second headline to this story; the union president signaling Thursday that talks to avoid another teachers strike are going well and that Friday’s head office cuts, while painful, underscore an effort to avoid layoffs in schools.

“Well, I think they’re trying not to do that-- I mean, they understand that layoffs are detrimental to kids. It’s not rocket science!” Lewis said.

Lewis went on to call the governor ‘delusional.’

And public schools boss Forrest Claypool is accusing the state of discriminating against students in Chicago. He says the city accounts for 20% of state enrollment but gets just 15% of the funding.

Add that other 5%, he says, and you would wipe out the budget gap at CPS.

CPS said they will provide more details Friday.