CPS head offers positive budget outlook as possibility of teachers’ strike looms

CHICAGO -- CPS CEO Forrest Claypool painted an optimistic picture of the department’s finances as he outlined its newest budget late this afternoon, but the caveat could be a teachers’ strike down the road.

Despite the district’s horrible bond rating, Claypool said CPS is on much better fiscal ground today than it was when he inherited a $1.15 billion deficit last year.

He credits recent progress made in Springfield by the governor and democratic legislative leaders for this success. He says the latest budget also has no “gimmicks” or operational borrowing.

Included is an operating budget that’s $232 million less than last year, help from a State of Illinois Landmark “Equity Grant,” and a $215 million commitment from the State to help cover the costs of teachers’ pensions.

However, the budget also aims to pay for teachers’ pensions by reinstating a property tax worth $250 million. The Chicago Teachers Union also pledged recently to protest CPS’ plans to lay off 500 teachers because of dwindling enrollment.

Claypool readily admits though that in order for this budget to work a labor deal with CTU must be reached-- and soon.