Thursday, June 17, 2010

CORE Update: Emergency Board Meeting 6/15/2010

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Emergency Board Meeting 6/15/2010

CPS called an emergency Board meeting on Tuesday, June 15 to pass a resolution that will drastically change our working conditions and the learning opportunities for our students. The resolution was passed unanimously at the meeting, in spite of every single speaker during the "public participation" portion urging the board members to vote "no." This resolution gives CEO Huberman permission to fire teachers and therefore raise class size up to 35 if he deems it "necessary" for budgetary reasons. It also gives him the permission to take out an $800 million loan, which he claims cannot be used to stave off the firings and ballooning class sizes.
This budget has still not been made public, in spite of Freedom of Information Act requests from CORE and various Chicago journalists. These firings will be based on Huberman's secret projections and without real budget numbers.
No announcement was made about how many teachers they will fire, if any. They claimed this was "just in case" they felt the need to fire teachers later.

Appendix H of our contract states:
Section I - Scope of Policy
Whenever an attendance center or a program is closed, there is a drop in enrollment,
the educational focus of the attendance center is changed such that available teaching
positions cannot accommodate some or all current regularly certified and appointed
teaching staff, or when an attendance center is subject to actions taken pursuant to
sections 34-8.3 or 34-8.4 of the Illinois School Code, tenured teachers will be
reassigned or laid off in accordance with this policy.

The contract states teachers have to be laid off according to seniority and tenured teachers get ten paid months to find a job. In those ten months, teachers are retained in the "reassignment pool" where they work as substitutes four days a week with full pay and benefits without a break in service.

Because the specific phrase "budgetary reasons" is not included in the "scope of policy", Huberman claims he can fire tenured teachers without giving them the 10 month bridge to continue employment in CPS.

CORE contends that none of this is necessary. Although there is no line-item budget available for the 2010-2011 school year, CORE's budget committee studied the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) and found millions of dollars in wasteful non-classroom spending.

The city's TIF (tax increment financing program) costs the schools $250 million in revenue, according to TIF expert Ben Joravsky, and verified by Cook County Clerk David Orr . This is money that normally would go directly to schools, but goes into the mayor's slush fund instead.

Many speakers at Tuesday's meeting spoke in favor of returning TIF dollars to the schools, but Huberman refused to speak to the issue.

It will save the CPS approximately $150 million a year if they raise class sizes to 35. Instead of lobbying the city to return TIF dollars, Huberman and the Daley-appointed Board passed policy to take out an $800 million dollar loan, raise class sizes, and possibly end the teacher reassignment pool. If it's a question of priorities, we question the board's.

Lois Jones, CTU High School Functional Vice-President-Elect, pointed out that 25 or fewer students in a classroom should be the first priority, before the board funds area offices, scripted curricula that don't work, and other costs we don't know about because we haven't seen the budget. Putting more students in a class is the LAST thing you should do if you have budget problems, not the first.

Teachers and students are the only ones asked to make sacrifices. This summer, it's crucial that we keep on top of the Board and continue organizing around budget transparency and quality education. With 30,000 united, the Board will have to change they way it does business.

Check out for updates.

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