Officials with the perpetually insolvent Chicago Public School system laid off 356 teachers and nearly 600 school support staffers this week.
The teachers and other employees received their pink slips from the taxpayer-funded school district on Monday, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.
Chicago’s elementary schools will have 240 fewer teachers this fall. Second City high schools will have 116 fewer teachers.
In addition to the 356 teachers, Chicago Public School officials also sacked 362 classroom aides and 221 employees who were security guards and special education aides.
Chicago Teachers Union spokeswoman Stacy Davis Gates blamed an ongoing budget battle between Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner in particular for the layoffs.
“Ultimately, the mayor has to stop waiting on a man who allowed the entire state to go without a budget for two years,” Gates told the Sun-Times. “If we’re waiting on Bruce Rauner to figure out how to equitably fund CPS, it’s not going to happen.”
School district spokesman Michael Passman said the layoffs are a function of enrollment declines at certain schools as well as current uncertainty about the annual budget for all public schools in Illinois.
State legislators in Illinois are still hammering out a formula for allocating funds to school districts. “We are doing this to allow Springfield more time to resolve the statewide education funding crisis before we ask our board to vote on a budget,” Passman told the Sun-Times.
Additional layoffs could come as soon as October, when individual schools must submit their enrollment counts for the 2017-2018 school year.
Historically, Chicago school district officials have managed to rehire about 60 percent of the teachers they lay off. The median salary for teachers in the Chicago Public Schools is a cushy $78,169 per year, according to data collected by DNAinfo Chicago.
The median household income in Chicago is just $48,522 per year, according to the United States Census Bureau. The president of the Chicago Teachers Union, Karen Lewis, brings home an impressive total salary of over $211,000 annually, according to the Sun-Times. That is about $17,600 per month — about $4,100 per week. The teachers union boss also owns two vacation homes, according to Chicagoist.
Teachers in Chicago with five years of experience earn the highest salaries among the nation’s 50 biggest school districts, according to the Illinois Policy Institute, a free-market public policy group.
Lewis, who has been beaten badly in several political battles by Emanuel, seriously mulled her own bid to be mayor, using her union’s considerable local power to raise $2 million.
Chicago’s public schools borrowed over $700 million at ruinously high interest rates in 2016. An initial bond offering at 7 percent interest generated a lack of interested investors, forcing the effective yield to reach as high as 8.5 percent. Even at that rate, the $725 million in bonds sold was less than the nearly $800 million Chicago Public Schools had hoped to raise.
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