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Teachers, staff at Rogers Park elementary school learns of $300,000 in budget cuts on one-year anniversary of school closings

by ctu communications  |  05/22/2014

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) received information from members today who learned this morning about pending budget cuts at Gale Math and Science Academy in Rogers Park. After reports last week that more than $300,000 in funding will be cut from the school by Chicago Public Schools in 2014-2015, Gale will also lose its librarian, technology teacher and two classroom teachers next year.

Gale was among schools spared from mass closure last February, yet this discouraging news of continued disinvestment in public education comes on the one-year anniversary of the largest one-time school closing action in U.S. history by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked Chicago Board of Education.

The CTU is concerned that many of the schools slated for closing a year ago that remained open will be subject to budget and staffing cuts so severe, they will become easy targets for the city’s next round of school closings or turnaround action. Student Based Budgeting (SBB) was lauded as a way to promote principals’ right to fund staff positions based on the needs of its students, yet it is obvious that SBB is a flawed verbal smokescreen, forcing principals cut positions while Chicago Public Schools officials hide behind the illusion of “local control.”

“Deliberately starving schools in low-income communities of resources, then closing those schools, is something that CPS has been doing for so long, they have it down to a science,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “But human lives are not experiments, and as is the case with Gale, the district is adding unnecessary trauma to a school community that needs our help the most.”

Of Gale’s nearly 500 students, 96 percent are minorities and come from low-income families, while almost 8 percent of all students are homeless or in transitional housing, according to the Illinois State Board of Education 2013 school report card.

In addition to the pending cuts in staff and funding, Gale has not received physical plant support from the district in a number of years, which has resulted in peeling lead paint in classrooms, roof leaks and a faulty, outdated fire alarm system.

“Article 14-1 of our contract mandates that employees shall work under safe and healthful conditions, and the allegations out Gale of are definitely not what we would consider safe and healthful working conditions,” Lewis said. “By not funding critical structural repairs at Gale for years, CPS has said the most at-risk children in our community do not deserve the best we can offer them.”

Chicago Teachers Union