$5.4 billion Chicago Public Schools budget approved

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CHICAGO — The Chicago Public School board has approved a controversial new budget.

The $5.4 billion plan includes property tax hikes for Chicago homeowners.

The board also authorized a credit line of more than $1.5 billion to help the district pay its bills this year, and up to $945 million in borrowing for unspecified school construction projects.

Meanwhile, teachers and advocacy groups protested in the rain earlier Wednesday to show their opposition to the spending plan.

A business-backed watchdog group called The Civic Federation says it can't back the budget because it relies on money from the state that may not materialize and a large amount of borrowing.

The assumed windfall in state funds totals $215 million to help cover teacher pensions. The business group says the school board must account for how it would close a funding gap if that money gets caught up in the state Capitol.

Chicago Public School CEO Forrest Claypool says if the state doesn't come through, the district will have to cut money from classrooms.