Principals finally get their budgets; teacher raises in question

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The school-level budgets released to principals Friday afternoon
included no reduction in the number of teachers that would result in class size increases, but the salary lines did not include the four
percent raises promised to teachers. The school-level budgets released to principals Friday afternoon included no reduction in the number of teachers that would result in class size increases, but the salary lines did not include the four percent raises promised to teachers.

 

The district is facing an estimated $720 million budget deficit and CEO Jean-Claude Brizard could be setting the stage for district leaders to declare a fiscal emergency–a move that could get the district out of paying the raises. The raises will cost the district about $80 million.

The board needs to declare by June 15 if they are going to do so. If a fiscal emergency is declared and the board votes not to pay the raises, the union would have the option of renegotiating its contract, or of going on strike.

In a letter to principals, Jean-Claude Brizard said that the board of education must approve the salary increase and that he was being conservative. 

CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said Brizard doesn’t know what the board wants to do, especially because the district faces such a big deficit, and it is up to them to declare a fiscal emergency. The new board members, like Brizard, were appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and have yet to meet.
“We are in a unique situation,” she said.  

Kenzo Shibata, member communications coordinator for the Chicago Teachers Union, took a conciliatory tone in response to the raises not being included in the school-level budgets.

“They are following procedure,” Shibata said. “We do know that it’s a new board, a new mayor and a new CEO, and we are expecting them to do the right thing by kids. That is all we know at this point.”

It is unclear whether school-level budgets typically have salary lines with raises, but there’s seemingly no reason why Brizard couldn’t have included them if he planned on paying them. The school-level budgets are planning documents.

Don Moore, executive director of Designs for Change, points out that the district signed a legal contract agreeing to pay the raises.

“It is nonsense,” said. “It is all public relations.”

Other than not committing to the salary increases, the budgets released to the schools did not shed much light on where Brizard will find pools of money to offset the deficit. About 150 “supplemental teaching positions and other staff” were not funded by the district, Carroll said. But she noted that principals could keep these counselors and other staff on by using discretionary money. 

At this point, Brizard, however, isn’t instructing principals to layoff teachers in order to increase class sizes, nor is he cutting positions for magnet and world language programs. He’s also funding early childhood and full-day kindergarten, despite the fact that it looks as though the district is going to receive less state funding for them. And discretionary money is remaining level.

Brizard announced Thursday that he has already found $75 million to trim in the central office and facilities and maintenance budgets. Area offices also have reportedly been told to cut between 37 and 40 percent.

Below is the letter Brizard sent to principals:

Dear Principals:

As you know, CPS faces a massive budget deficit of $720 million for fiscal year 2012. A large portion of this deficit is being driven by the loss of millions in federal stimulus dollars. We have also faced a great deal of uncertainty in Springfield, only learning Tuesday that the legislature is slashing aid to schools along with some CPS block grants, leaving us another $77 million in the red.

Yesterday, Mayor Emanuel and I announced $75 million of reductions in administrative and non-classroom spending to do our part in ensuring that our children’s education comes before all else during this fiscal crisis. I believe that commitment is reflected in the priorities funded in your school-based budget.

My commitment to you as our school leaders is to keep cuts as far away from the classroom as possible while directing every dollar possible towards them.  I know you have been faced with an unconscionable delay in the release of your school-based budget, which is why I instructed staff on my first day as CEO to have budgets in hand by today. I’m now writing to let you know that the Public Sector Budgeting (PSB) tool in Oracle is now open for schools, and you can begin working on your budgets immediately.

Unfortunately, because of the delay in issuing these budgets, you are going to face some very challenging time constraints: the PSB tool will close on Sunday, June 12. Our information technology teams have worked diligently over the last several weeks to prepare our technology systems for the heavy load in traffic we expect next week, but we still encourage you to get started right away.

These school based budgets reflect the best assumptions available to us at this time and we believe they will be very reliable planning tools for you.

Let me address some of the major items you will see in the budgets as you open them:

•    There will be no increases to class size.

•    We are sustaining our support of early childhood education, including supplemental full-day kindergarten positions, despite the fact that the state has slashed block grant funding for them.

•    We are maintaining magnet and world language positions.

•    We are maintaining existing Culture of Calm positions, which will be funded with Title I dollars and not your school’s discretionary allocation.

•    Supplemental General State Aid and NCLB Title 1 (discretionary) funding will remain level.

Our budget situation will force us to trim some supplemental and instructional support programs. Impacted schools will see these reductions in their budget packets and these reductions will vary on a case by case basis.

You will also see that there are no 4% salary increases for teachers loaded in your budgets. That is because any increases must be approved by the Board of Education, and the newly appointed board has not yet met. Therefore, we took a conservative approach and left out scheduled salary increases for now. The final decision lies with the board (not with senior management), and we anticipate they will make a determination this month, in accordance with the deadline in the collective bargaining agreement. As you plan your budgets for next year, you should expect that any board funded positions not supported by school membership after the 20th day of student attendance will not be maintained. This may not require any immediate action, but should be kept in mind during your planning process.

A small group of you will see some cuts to supplemental teaching positions and other staff. You may be able to augment these cuts with your discretionary dollars. Once you submit budgets, our human capital team must conduct an analysis of positions—and any potential layoffs—to ensure we abide by all parts of our collective bargaining agreements. Once that is complete, we will reach out to you with more guidance and detailed timing.

While some things may change, and the CPS budget will not be final until August, the school-based budgets available to you today will help you make the decisions you need to define your FY 12 programming. Our central office staff, our business service centers, and your chief area officers are all prepared to support you in this process. Business service centers will offer extended hours throughout next week, and will be open next weekend (June 11 and 12) to assist you. In fact, many of you are already participating in training today.

On behalf of the entire senior leadership team, I want to thank you for your incredible patience and understanding over the last several months. We know this has been enormously frustrating for you, and we appreciate how hard you are working on behalf of our students, teachers and communities.

Jean-Claude Brizard

Chief Executive Officer