CHICAGO Feb 22 The Chicago Board of Education
on Wednesday approved a revised budget that incorporates unpaid
furlough days and other cost-cutting measures to save $104
million to help address a $215 million pension funding
The $5.41 billion budget still has a $111 million hole to
fill before the fiscal year ends on June 30. The Chicago Public
Schools (CPS) will continue to pursue money from the state of
Illinois to fill the gap, including through its recently filed
lawsuit against the state, according to a school spokeswoman.
The nation's third-largest public school system sued
Illinois last week, claiming the state's method of education
funding discriminates against the district's largely black and
Hispanic student body.
CPS is struggling with pension payments that will jump to
$733 million this fiscal year from $676 million in fiscal 2016,
as well as drained reserves and debt dependency. The fiscal woes
have pushed its general obligation credit ratings deep into the
junk category and led investors to demand fat yields for its
As part of a deal to enact state-wide pension changes,
Illinois lawmakers passed a bill last year to send CPS $215
million in one-time funding earmarked for its teachers'
retirement system. In December, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the
measure after comprehensive pension legislation failed to
Frustration over the veto led CPS to file its lawsuit
invoking Illinois' Civil Rights Act. The Illinois State Board of
Education said on Wednesday it finalized a settlement in the
only other pending lawsuit over state funding, which was filed
by civil rights group the Chicago Urban League in 2008.
Under the settlement, procedures will be put in place for
when legislative appropriations fail to cover all general state
aid claims submitted by school districts, the state board said
in a statement.
The state Senate has proposed a package of bills aimed at
ending Illinois' record-breaking budget impasse. The measures,
which must all be passed in order for the package to be enacted,
include state funding for Chicago teacher pensions as well as a
major tax hike, casino expansion and a school funding revamp. A
bipartisan deal on the bills stumbled earlier this month when
the Senate rejected a key measure to cut pension costs.
A spokesman for Democratic Senate President John Cullerton
said on Wednesday negotiations over the bills continue.
CPS's fiscal 2017 budget, which was originally approved by
the school board in August, was also revised in December to
accommodate a new teachers' contract.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)