As now widely reported, Chicago Public Schools has gone through with mid-year layoffs due to the district facing a hundred million dollar budget deficit. With the anticipation earlier this year being 5,000 layoffs and then dropping down to a few hundred, 62 employees received pink slips by their principals today.
However, as students, parents, and school communities, we view 62 positions lost just as critical as 5,000. With schools like Brighton Park, Von Steuben, and Nash Elementary unable to fundraise to save positions, it furthers the vulnerability of students at these schools. As announced by CPS, 17 of the 62 positions lost were teachers, leaving 55 cuts in positions that foster and care for students outside of the classrooms. Such cuts actually do affect the classrooms because without these individualized special services provided by the terminated employees, the student’s overall educational provisions for success will not be met.
When cuts of any magnitude are implemented, students lose a person who mentors them through hardships both at school and at home. Emotional support of students will continue to be the most neglected service with these terminated positions.
While Claypool and Rahm credited principals in their role for avoiding teacher cuts, much of the credit is owed to the teachers. Teachers at Galileo Scholastic Academy say numerous meetings were scheduled before school over the past few weeks in order to delineate in what ways their school can avoid further teacher cuts. Many teachers sacrificed their prep period in order to help fill part-time special education and bilingual positions.
It must also be noted that many teachers and paraprofessionals were spared by this round of cuts, but massive layoffs are still a possibility come June 30 at 3:00 p.m. with many analysts anticipating CPS’s budget shortfall to be even greater during the 2016-2017 school year.
*Chicago Teacher’s Union VP Jesse Sharkey announced April 1 as a possible strike date if CPS follows through with the elimination of the 7% pension pick-up.