“That’s the worse case scenario.” Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool said ending the year on June 1st would be the very last option but it is still on the table. After almost two years and still no spending plan in Illinois, schools across the state are on their last dime, including CPS. On Monday, Claypool said, “I want to be crystal clear. We believe it is possible to avoid ending the school year early, but only if Springfield acts or Judge [Franklin] Valderrama enjoins the state from distributing funding in a racially discriminatory manner.”
Currently, CPS has a civil rights lawsuit out against Gov. Rauner and the Illinois State Board of Education saying less money is going to the predominantly poor and minority communities and more is going to wealthier districts. Claypool asked the Cook County judge to speed up his ruling citing, “devastating, immediate and irreparable harm” if no money or solution is figured out. CPS is asking for a decision by the judge by the end of April.
If no money is delivered by Governor Bruce Rauner and lawmakers in Springfield, CPS is also considering getting rid of summer school for both elementary and middle school students (it will keep the program running for special education). This could ultimately save the district approximately $96 million, including the $5 million it will cost to hold summer school. The 2016-2017 school year is scheduled to end on June 20th.
However, ending the year early is a problem in two ways, 1) in 2012, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel promised to extend the school year by 10 days during his campaign. The added days was the core reason behind the CPS Teachers’ Strike and 2) a shorter school year would technically violate the Illinois Board of Education’s requirement on the length of the public school year (180 days) thus leading to even less state aid.
Teachers will also face a huge burden since they are uncertain if they will have to shorten 13 days of their curriculum to adjust to the move. Gov. Rauner’s Education Secretary Beth Purvis said, “As children statewide continue to be impacted by the state’s broken school funding formula, now is the time for CEO Claypool to engage in a constructive process to pass a balanced budget with changes that would help schools across the state, including those in Chicago.”