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CPS reveals plan to pay for first year of teachers’ raises

Updated: November 7, 2012 6:08AM

Chicago Public Schools said Friday it will pay for this year’s teacher raises by reducing central office spending and restructuring debt, making no mention of closing any schools.

The contract deal, ratified this week by Chicago Teachers Union members, added $103 million to the current school year’s budget, district officials said. Among the planned savings are curbing $4 million in professional memberships and subscriptions, leaving $8 million in non-teacher openings vacant, selling $15 million in surplus property and restructuring debt for another $42 million.

“We are maintaining our commitment to invest in, not cut from, our classrooms,” schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said in an emailed statement. “The budget is an ongoing process, and we will continue to work throughout the year to identify ways we can capture additional savings and increase revenue to address the long-standing financial challenges facing the district.”

The Chicago Board of Education will have to approve the amended budget on Oct. 24, its next scheduled meeting. Two public hearings will be held in the meantime, though the district has not yet scheduled them.

Of the added pay costs, $59 million will pay for the 3 percent cost of living increases agreed to during the seven-day teachers strike, $33 million will fund the “step” increases that reward teacher experience, and another $5 million pays for “lane” raises for continued teacher education.

Also included is $6 million in raises for CTU members who aren’t teachers ­­— for example, clinicians and social workers.

On Wednesday, 32 Chicago aldermen demanded that Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked school team come clean about what they fear is a secret plan to close more than 100 under-utilized Chicago Public Schools to pay for the teachers’ contract.

The mayor has emphatically denied it, but Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) said he has been told by high-ranking CPS officials that there is a “master plan” to close 90 to 100 under-used public schools to save money.

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