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CPS principals given budgets; 4 percent teacher raises not included

Jean-Claude Brizard | Sun-Times Library

Jean-Claude Brizard | Sun-Times Library

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Updated: September 24, 2011 12:21AM

Chicago Public School principals late last week received long overdue budgets packing $10.6 million in school-based cuts — but also omitting a negotiated 4 percent raise for teachers.

The budgets arrived midday Friday with an e-mail from new Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard saying teacher raises weren’t included because they have yet to be approved by “newly appointed board members and they have not met yet. Therefore, we took a conservative approach and left out scheduled salary increases for now.’’

Although the Chicago Teachers Union is entering the last year of a contract calling for 4 percent raises this coming school year, CPS can bail out of the raises and reopen the contract if officials declare by June 15 that they don’t have the money to cover an estimated $80 million in CTU raises.

With Friday’s cuts, based on figures released by CPS, the schools’ deficit should have stood at $634.4 million — although it could be $77 million higher if other state cutbacks are signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn. However, CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll declined Friday to provide an updated deficit number, saying “these are all estimates and moving targets.”

CTU spokeswoman Liz Brown dismissed the omission of the raises in Brizard’s e-mail, calling the note a mere “administrative letter keeping the wheels of the system moving forward.” Said Brown: “I’m not going to worry.’’

Others saw it as a sign of things to come. Said one principal who asked for anonymity: “Wasn’t Brizard supposed to come in and play hardball? ... You can connect the dots. They obviously feel they are going to negotiate with the union to not have an increase, yet they want to extend the school day.’’

The good news in Brizard’s e-mail was that he said school budgets included no increase in class size, no trims to full-day kindergarten despite state cutbacks, and no cuts to existing anti-violence positions created under former Schools CEO Ron Huberman’s “culture of calm” program.

However, up to 100 “supplemental” teaching positions and 50 “supplemental” non-teaching positions were trimmed, yielding $10.6 million in savings, spokeswoman Carroll said.

The positions were all “outside the core curriculum” of reading, math, science and social studies, she said. Asked if that meant art, music and physical education positions were axed, Carroll said the cuts would “vary from school to school” and added that if schools, somehow, could find the money to cover the positions they might not be cut at all.

Meanwhile, CTU teachers planned
“grade-ins’’ Saturday at two city parks and a Starbucks coffee to show the public that they work more than their seven scheduled hours per weekday. CPS teachers will be grading papers on non-school hours -- part of a new national phenomenon of “grade-ins’’ by teachers frustrated by what they say are mounting attacks on them.

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