By: Symone Smith
Without a final budget for the 2015-2016 school year, Chicago Public Schools may be facing teacher layoffs at the end of the first semester due to the pension crisis. So how might Senn be impacted?
CPS has a budget hole of $480 million, which means Chicago schools won’t have enough money for the second semester. Some say this budget crisis is escalated due to former Mayor Richard Daley, who continuously took out money from the teacher pension funds to spend on other city needs. Daley planned on returning the money but never did. Now it may be too late. To solve the problem CPS either has to get financial help from Springfield or lay off teachers.
Across the city, classes could be switched and rearranged mid school year, and class sizes have the possibility to double if our budget is cut back.
Interim principal Mary Beck shares her thoughts on the crisis but emphasizes that everything is still up in the air and that there are no definite answers as to what is going to happen.
She describes her first thoughts on the threat, “I didn’t think the layoffs would happen because of the ramifications it could have within the system.”
Though at first she thought the problem would solve itself as it did in previous years, she soon realized her first year as a principal could be one with many hardships. “From all that I’ve been hearing,” Beck says, “and what we’ve been instructed from CPS and the Network, it is a very real situation.”
Many CPS teachers are frustrated with the politics that are entering their classrooms and feel short-changed from the hard work they are completing.
Like Beck, History teacher Sarah Bey feels that potential teacher layoffs not only have a negative educational effect but also an emotional one. Students are not only losing educators but resources that some teens so desperately need.
“I think that if there is that one less support system,” Bey says, “that one teacher or admin that really connects with a student that can’t connect with anyone else and suddenly that resource isn’t there.”
Junior D’angelo Robinson agrees with Bey, stating, “It’s kind of selfish to the children because this is taking away from our education.”
But who is truly to blame for this Mayor Daley, CPS board, even teachers? Bey feels that this crisis is heightened from the feelings Mayor Emmanuel has towards the teachers.
“I feel Mayor Emmanuel doesn’t give teachers the respect they deserve,” Bey says.
This could be true but there is no time to play the blame game, the city and state need to find a solution. Principal Beck is even finding ways to involve the community by encouraging parents at a recent Report Card Pick Up to e-mail state senators asking for financial support.
She encourages Senn students speak out against the proposed teacher cuts because as Bey stated it is the kids who are truly affected.
The layoffs only have negative repercussions, so we as a Senn community need to do everything we can to prevent them, and the first step is realizing you do have a voice in this matter and only good can come from using it.
“I’m confident we’ll make it through,” Beck says, “because we have strong academics, really strong enrollment, and we have great, amazing programs.”