Today over 2100 teachers and staff in the Chicago Public Schools were laid off. Because that's getting up into "numbers so big they don't mean anything," that's about 2/3 of the teaching staff of the Worcester Public School, or about half of all of our employees.
This is part of the same mess I posted about yesterday--the Chicago Public Schools' budget gap, which is estimated at $1 billion. The crazy thing about laying off staff to close a budget gap, however, is this: when a public school district lays off an employee, and that employee becomes eligible for unemployment, the unemployment must be paid by the public district laying off the employee. Thus a district really doesn't save as much by laying off staff as you at first might think, since unemployment has to go up while the salary line is cut. It's not by the same amount, but it is substantial. If you've heard this discussed by the School Committee here in Worcester before, you might remember that most of the savings actually comes in the employee health insurance. I haven't seen any estimates from CPS on how much they are projecting them would save, but, then, I would be concerned about their numbers regardless.
And on a related note, the Chicago Tribune is reporting today that the Chicago Public Schools have recently replaced lighting in several of their schools that they plan to close. What's more, without an equivalent to MSBA to pick up part of the cost on a major project, the administration has set up a program whereby investors can get their money back and more by receiving the savings created by more efficient lighting...
...except that isn't going to happen if the lights are never on, or the building is sold.