By: Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner
It’s been over a week since the Chicago teachers strike was settled and only now are the right questions being asked about the contract. How is the district going to pay for the $1.5 billion in additional operational costs – a near 20 percent increase in payroll costs by year five? How much will property taxes go up? Why were pension costs never talked about? How can the district afford to give teachers bankable sick leave that lets them retire 1.5 years early with a full pension?
And now with a CPS release that shows enrollment fell by another 6,000 students, add this question: How can Mayor Lightfoot and CPS grant the CTU what the mayor calls the “most generous contract” in the union’s history when the school district continues to shrink?
CPS reported on Friday that enrollment fell to 355,155 in 2019 from 361,314 last year. The latest drop follows declines of nearly 10,000-students in each of the previous three years.
As the graphic shows, CPS is in a nearly uninterrupted 20-year enrollment freefall. In all, CPS has lost more than 80,000 students, or 18 percent of its total, since 2000.
The contract makes even less sense given the district’s additional loss of students and the expectation that more losses are coming. Never mind that Chicagoans are still hurting from the record property tax hikes imposed by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Or that Lightfoot will have to raise property taxes to help plug the city’s separate $838 million shortfall – an official number that doesn’t properly reflect the city’s true deficit.
The school district has agreed to a long-term teachers’ contract that locks in salary increases of 24 to 48 percent over five years. It guarantees hundreds of new jobs in writing, despite CPS’ shaky finances, the district’s deep-in-junk rating and the prospect of an eventual economic slowdown. The deal also limits the options of more kids to attend CPS-managed charter schools – giving parents looking for better options no choice but to leave CPS altogether. And CPS won’t close schools that are nearly empty.
Supporters of the new teachers’ contract may think they’re being empathetic towards CPS workers.
But the mayor and the union’s new deal only accelerates the district’s path toward insolvency. And that’s not good for CPS employees or their pensions, or the kids who’ll be left stranded in a failed system.
Read more details about the strike and the new Chicago teachers contract:
- Chicago teachers contract costs a record $1.5 billion, and that doesn’t even include pension costs
- How Chicago Stiffed The Rest Of Illinois For Cost Of Its New Teacher Pension Giveaways
- Next time the CTU says Chicago teachers don’t get Social Security, show this graphic
- Wirepoints’ speech to the City Club of Chicago: “By focusing on Chicago’s one-year budget, it’s like we’re treating an intensive care patient with an aspirin.”
- Chicago teachers strike: Why is no one talking about pensions?