He said that officials at the nation's third-largest public school
system are prepared to negotiate around the clock with the teachers'
union, but that the district must take steps to plug a $500 million
hole in the $5.7 billion budget and a $1.1 billion structural
"We do not want to do this," Claypool told reporters, referring to
the planned cuts, which a school spokeswoman initially said would
save $165 million for the current budget. A district fact sheet
released later in the day pegged savings at $140 million. Claypool
added that the top priority is to keep classroom doors open.
He also said the district intended to sell around $875 million of
"junk"-rated bonds in the municipal market on Wednesday after a
week's delay. Bond investors became skittish last week over proposed
legislation backed by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and fellow
Republicans to take over the troubled school system and potentially
allow it to file for municipal bankruptcy.
Claypool said the bond issue was getting "strong interest from
investors" this week.
"I think we're sending a very strong signal here that we are
righting the fiscal ship," he said, referring to the spending cuts.
Those cuts would end the school district's payment of most of
teachers' pension contributions and would result in layoffs at
schools, although Claypool said CPS would "do our very best to avoid
He did not specify the number of layoffs.
Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey called cuts in
the middle of the school year "an atrocity." He also questioned the
legality of eliminating the district's so-called pension pickup for
On Monday, a union bargaining team unanimously rejected a contract
offer, raising the possibility of a strike.
[to top of second column]
Rauner on Tuesday heightened his attack on CPS, calling the contract
rejection a “wakeup call” for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who
controls CPS, and proof that the school district should be taken
“If the mayor can’t get a deal done with the teachers union, I
guarantee you, we, working from the state, can get a deal done,”
Rauner told reporters.
Rauner said he has ordered the Illinois State Board of Education to
begin compiling candidates the state could install on an interim
basis to replace current school CEO Claypool.
“Let’s begin the process to review Chicago Public Schools to see
where they qualify for state oversight. I believe they clearly
already qualify based on my review," Rauner said.
A Rauner aide later said an actual takeover requires passage of the
legislation, which top legislative Democrats oppose.
(Reporting by Karen Pierog, Mary Wisniewski and Dave McKinney;
Editing by Matthew Lewis and Lisa Shumaker)
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