WNA SCHOOLS REPORT: Our Schools Request Your Immediate Action

by D. Varanauski, WNA Schools Chair

Chicago Public Schools is facing “doomsday” budget cuts, educators have warned us in a recent meeting. If the state Legislature doesn’t pass a budget before May 31, Chicago schools would be forced to cut at least 26 percent from their 2016-17 budgets, said James Gray, principal of Hamilton Elementary School. “Even if we get this solved, there are ripples that will happen,” Gray said. Chicago teachers are flocking to jobs outside the city, “and the longer we wait, the bigger ripples and the more talented educators will leave CPS and leave the state, as well,” he said.

On Monday, roughly 200 people attended an Equitable Education Funding event at Agassiz Elementary School. There were several principals from our neighborhood who participated in the panel, included principals from Mayer, Agassiz, Hawthorne, Hamilton, and Lake View High School.  Those who attended were able to learn more about the funding crisis facing CPS, the impact it will have on schools, and the possible solutions. 

As you know a 39% cut to school budgets will absolutely devastate our ability to provide a quality program to children. CPS already made massive cuts last year that massively depleted funding. Whether the cut is an additional 15%, 20%, 25% or 39%, these schools will not be able to fund-raise or strategically plan our way out of this. 

We are only days away from Springfield breaking for summer session.  Springfield needs to hear your voice.  If you are interested in a copy of the presentation from the meeting, please email oscarmayernews@gmail.com and they can send you a copy.  Also, included in this email are a few more resources, and the schools are asking you to do the following:

  • Visit www.fundingilfuture.org and send a letter to your elected officials regarding SB 231. This will drive approximately $375 million dollars towards CPS.
  • Print the “Elected Official” letter, fill out your information and the information of your elected official(s), and bring them to your school’s main office. The more they receive, the more pressure they will feel.  They will send them to Springfield. 
  • Call our most powerful legislators and ask them or their staff members what bills and policies they support that will address the shortfall. Once they tell you, ask them how they are ensuring that their solutions are debated and considered. 

If a state budget doesn’t pass by May 31, the Legislature would have to approve it a with three-fifths majority, versus the simple majority it needs before that. Unlike last year, the state seems unwilling to slip through a spending bill that would keep money flowing to schools, subjecting them instead to the same peril that social services and public universities like Chicago State faced this year. “You can see why there’s a lot of activity ramping up around the May 31 deadline,” Pietrini said.  

Thank you for your continued support for our local public schools!

(Parts of this newsletter were taken verbatim from excerpts from the DNAInfo.com Chicago article, “CPS Principals Have A Plan To Save Chicago Schools — But They Need Our Help” by Ariel Cheung May 24, 2016 and a letter from Mayer Elementary Principal Konieczny)