Chicago school district announces layoffs in central office

AP News
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Posted: Jan 21, 2016 9:14 PM

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Public Schools will lay off some of its central office staff this week as it deals with its precarious financial state, the head of the district said Thursday.

The announcement by district CEO Forrest Claypool came a day after top Illinois Republicans called for a state takeover of the financially troubled school district, which has a nearly $1 billion budget deficit that could lead to thousands of teacher layoffs and a strike.

Claypool did not say how many people, including administrative staff, would be laid off Friday, but teachers are not expected to be among them.

"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," Claypool said. "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."

Claypool says district officials will continue to work with the Chicago Teachers Union and the state to find a solution to the budget crisis.

Union vice president Jesse Sharkey told WMAQ-TV that layoffs in the middle of the year, whether at the central office "or on the front line are no good and are a step in the wrong direction."

Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said Wednesday they'll introduce legislation that would give the Illinois State Board of Education control over the nation's third-largest school district.

Democrats, who hold big majorities in both chambers of the Illinois Legislature, blasted the plan almost immediately. Senate President John Cullerton called the idea a distraction from the state's other problems.

The Chicago district also is in the midst of contentious negotiations with the teachers on a new contract. Union members last month overwhelmingly authorized their leaders to call a strike if needed, which was an attempt to pressure the district to avoid layoffs or severe cuts. The union, which went on strike in 2012, says a walkout would still be months away.