Chicago Public Schools

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  The Chicago Teachers Union approved a plan Wednesday to close down city schools on April 1.

The union wants to bring attention to education funding and contract issues.  Earlier this month, the district said employees must take three unpaid furlough days during the current fiscal year to save $30 million.  

Chicago Public Schools officials say a walkout would be illegal, because it isn't in line with the state-mandated process for a teacher's strike.

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Chicago Public Schools officials say they've filed lawsuits over the Illinois State Charter School Commission's decision to block plans closing three underperforming charter schools.

The lawsuits were filed on Wednesday in Cook County and claim the commission is overstepping charter school law.

Schools CEO Forrest Claypool says the commission has "ignored its own academic standards" to keep underperforming schools open.

He's also called on state legislators to cut the commission's power.

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A federal judge has set a date for a defendant in a Chicago Public Schools kickbacks case to change his plea.

Thomas Vranas and a co-defendant are accused of arranging to pay the then-head of CPS $2.3 million in exchange for her steering $23 million in no-bid contracts to their company, SUPES Academy.

A notice posted Wednesday by Judge Edmond Chang says prosecutors and defense attorneys asked for a date for Vranas to change his plea. It's set for April 12.

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Chicago Public School principals have been told to stop spending because the district is short of the cash needed to keep operating for the remainder of the school year.

Each of the district's geographic school networks was given a savings goal with the hope of saving $45 million.

School officials told the principals the district was stockpiling its remaining cash to make a $688 million pension payment on June 30.

The payment comes weeks before new property tax revenue is to be deposited in CPS bank accounts.

cps.edu

The head of Chicago's public schools is criticizing the Illinois State Charter School Commission for blocking a plan to close three underperforming charter schools at end of the school year.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool yesterday called the commission's decision “shameful” and says the district will challenge it.

The district moved to close Amandla Charter School, Shabazz International Charter School's Sizemore Academy and Bronzeville Lighthouse Charter School for failing to meet academic standards.

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Chicago Public Schools has announced the layoff of 62 employees, 17 of them teachers, citing its efforts to stabilize its finances by eliminating $85 million from school budgets.

In announcing yesterday's move, the school district said those laid off include 43 full-time and 19 part-time employees.

Chicago schools CEO Forrest Claypool says the fact the cuts are needed is unfortunate for the district's students, principals and teachers.

cps.edu

Chicago Public Schools have slashed millions of dollars from school budgets, forcing principals to refigure their plans with the second semester just underway.

The principals received news of the $85 million cut on Tuesday as the school district faces a $1.1 billion budget deficit, no income from the state of Illinois and no contract with the Chicago Teachers Union.

In a written statement, schools CEO Forest Claypool the steps taken were necessary because the district's cash position "becomes tighter every day."

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Chicago Public Schools has sold $725 million in tax-exempt bonds it says will help get the district through the rest of the school year.

Because the district has received a low credit rating, it must pay an 8.5 percent interest rate on most of the bonds sold yesterday.

Officials say the sale raised less than the $875 million the district wanted.

The district is rated three levels below junk status by all three major rating agencies.

Recent financial documents have revealed the district had barely enough cash to make it through the year.

CPS

Chicago school officials say they're ready to cut $100 million from school budgets and force teachers to pay more pension costs after the teachers' union rejected the latest offer in contentious contract negotiations that have lasted over a year.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool said yesterday the union's rejection was “disheartening'' and cost-cutting efforts were necessary without a deal.

He says bargaining continues.

The district faces a $1 billion shortfall and recently laid off hundreds of central office employees.

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The Chicago Teachers Union says it'll consider a “serious offer'' from the nation's third-largest school district by taking the contract proposal to a team of negotiators.

The news announced Thursday evening could signal a step forward in negotiations that have gone on more than a year.

CTU President Karen Lewis says a 40-member committee will convene Monday and deliberate.

Neither side released details of the office.

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