Three years ago, the Illinois state legislature gave Chicago Public Schools what critics called a ‘pension holiday,’ where the district could reduce payments owed to its retirement system. That’s set to expire at the end of June, meaning Chicago’s schools will have to make room for an extra $400 million in its budget to pay for teachers’ pensions.
CPS could have avoided writing that check by getting Illinois lawmakers to give them a longer timetable that would gradually increase pension payments over the next several years. This fiscal year, Chicago Public Schools is paying about $200 million toward its pensions. If Springfield takes no action, that number would jump to $600 million next year for pensions. The school system’s budget is a little more than $5 billion.
“We’re looking at how this will affect us,” said Kelly Quinn on Monday, a spokeswoman for Chicago Public Schools.