By Kyle Olson
CHICAGO – For all of the panicky rhetoric coming out of Chicago, one would think the school district is on the verge of financial collapse.
Indeed, the Chicago Tribune recently published an editorial announcing that the financial emergency for CPS has arrived.
That may very well be, but one would never know it from the proposed increase in spending of nearly 10 percent.
Chicago Public Schools recently released a proposed budget of$5.6 billion for the 2013-14 school year. That’s up from $5.1 billion the previous year.
The dramatic increase in spending is largely due to a $405 million employee pension payment the district must make because the state failed to reform government retirement plans. It’s also tied to the raise that striking teachers received last year, which will cost the district about $95 million per year.
We fail to see how increased spending will help the district erase a deficit nearing $1 billion.
If the district is going to spend more money, students should benefit. But that’s apparently not the case. The Chicago Sun Times reports “classroom spending” will decrease by $68 million, forcing many schools in the district to cut programs and offer some core classes online.
So expenses caused by the teachers union – the pricey pension system and the inexcusable raise – are squeezing students out of the budget equation. How typical for a big city school district where the union calls most of the shots.
The district cannot look for help from taxpayers. The newspaper notes that CPS has now reached the maximum amount it can tax property owners to make ends meet.
In more bad news, Moody’s has downgraded CPS’s credit rating yet again, making it more expensive for the district to borrow money.
Chicago schools seem to be on a financial death spiral, and increased spending will do nothing to delay the day of reckoning. Will CPS turn out to be the next Detroit?