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Chicago Public Schools has an unprecedented $2 billion for recovery from COVID-19, yet Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s 2021-2022 district budget doesn’t increase staffing, make key improvements to buildings, or demonstrate a commitment to making schools better than before the pandemic.

  • Tuesday, July 20, 4 p.m.: Chicago Teachers Union People’s Budget Hearing today at Chicago City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle.

CHICAGO, July 20, 2021 — Rank-and-file Chicago Teachers Union members — teachers, clinicians, counselors, librarians and PSRPs — are holding a People’s Budget Hearing at 4 p.m. today at City Hall to discuss the ongoing need to fully staff and resource Chicago’s public schools as communities struggle with recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s action comes on the birthday of late CTU President Emerita Karen GJ Lewis, NBCT, and kicks off prior to a 6 p.m. Chicago Public Schools forum on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s district budget, the main statement of priorities for the city’s public schools.

“We are honoring Karen today by doing what she, an educator through and through, taught us, which is taking our fight to the seat of power and advocating for our students and school communities,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said.

This year, amidst summer violence and uncertainty around CPS safety measures for the fall return to classes, parents and school communities are left with more questions than answers on how $2 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act for pandemic recovery will be spent. Now is the time to fully staff and resource Chicago’s public schools, yet the mayor’s budget clearly says that CPS won’t do what’s needed: hire key workers, make improvements to buildings or demonstrate its commitment to making schools better than they were before the pandemic.

This stance only exacerbates the harm the pandemic has caused.

“Because of $2 billion in federal funding, Chicago Public Schools could have a social worker, a nurse and a counselor in every school next year for a fraction of the usual cost, and its answer to the families it serves remains ‘no,'” Sharkey said.

Union leaders and educators will meet at 4 p.m. today at City Hall to present budget concerns around school staffing, capital improvements and long-term district sustainability. The Union is also calling on the mayor and CPS to provide meaningful engagement with parents concerned about their children’s safety, as the vast majority of Chicago’s Black and Brown families chose to keep their students out of public school buildings this spring due to the impact of COVID on their communities.