Chicago Public Schools could face $975 million hole February 25, 2010 BY ROSALIND ROSSI Staff Reporter To get ahead of what could be a $975 million deficit next school year, Chicago Public School officials Thursday announced 500 central office and citywide job cuts and three weeks of furlough days for those left behind. Chicago Schools CEO Ron Huberman and his fiscal leaders sketched out the CPS game plan for a "very, very challenging fiscal situation this year and next," and said they would need help from teachers and other unions to avoid "devastating effects" on school children. With no new funding from Springfield, CPS officials said, they project a $700 million deficit next year. But with Gov. Quinn's proposed 15 percent cut in state education funding, that deficit could balloon to $975 million. Schools to take wallop in 2011 state budget 15% cuts starting in July still expected to leave Illinois in red February 25, 2010 BY DAVE McKINNEY AND STEVE CONTORNO Staff Reporters SPRINGFIELD -- Without an infusion of cash, Gov. Quinn plans to slash more than $2 billion from next year's state budget and make already cash-strapped public school systems across Illinois bear the brunt of that cutting, his budget director confirmed Wednesday. Budget data that the Quinn administration posted online showed elementary and secondary education facing a possible 15 percent cut in state payments during the fiscal year that starts July 1. Schools are expected to lose $920 million from current funding levels. School districts throughout the state have been reeling by stalled aid payments from Springfield that have left school systems no choice but to lay off teachers and contemplate deep program cuts. "These are not just efficiency cuts," said David Vaught, the state's budget director. "They affect real services to real people in communities across the state." Even with those cuts, the state would still face an $11.5 billion deficit, Vaught said. Quinn, who failed last year to push through a state income tax hike, remains committed to doing that this spring, which the administration believes would soften some of the looming budgetary pain. "I don't think his support has wavered, and I think that is a necessary step," Vaught said, though he refused to say whether the governor might embrace a temporary income tax increase. House Speaker Michael Madigan did not emerge as a cheerleader of any sort for an election year income-tax hike, telling reporters he has discussed that matter privately with the governor and "I'm not going to make public statements about that." However, Madigan stressed that no tax hike can pass without support from House and Senate Republicans, whom he characterized as "non-participating dropouts" for refusing to entertain any revenue increases. BUT........Not for everyone! Latino group awarded $3.4M to fund health career program February 26, 2010 SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE The Illinois Dept. of Labor has awarded the National Council of La Raza a $3.4 million award to invest in health services training for high-need Latino communities in Chicago The money will fund the Carreras en Salud program, which provides low-income, low-skilled Latinos with a structured but flexible career pathway to nursing and health occupations, according to a release from the NCLR. Carreras en Salud offers integrated services to overcome barriers to employment and career advancement, such as job training, career counseling and assistance in job placement, the release said. The program represents a workforce parternship betwen NCLR and its Chicago-based affiliates, the Instituto del Progreso Latino, Association House of Chicago and Humboldt Park Vocational Education Center, the release said. Services will be easily accessible, as all three partners are located in Latino communities -- HPVEC and AHC in the Humboldt Park area, and Instituto del Progreso Latino in the Pilsen neighborhood. NCLR is the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, the release said Welcome to America! MUCHOS GRASIAS, SUCKERS!