Nearly 900 Chicago State University employees received layoff notices last week as the historically black school struggles to keep its doors open.
Flatly, the school has run out of money. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is battling with Democrats in the state assembly over budgetary issues. But Chicago State receives close to 37 million in funding from the state, and because of the political battles being forged in Springfield, CSU may be on the short end of the stick.
To fill the financial vacuum, the school has taken some serious steps to ensure that the school keeps running. CSU has instituted a hiring freeze and trimmed 15 percent of its workforce.
That still hasn’t been enough, so now CSU has decided to forgo spring break and will cut the school year short by several days.
Without any money, the school may not be able to do certain things, like pay its employees or keep programs alive. The layoff notices mean that employees may lose their jobs as early as April or as late as August.
CSU is also in danger of losing its accreditation because of its money woes and may see a downgrade in its credit rating. What makes matters worse is that CSU isn’t the only state school facing the same problems -- Illinois has seven other universities that receive state funding and each one is facing money problems.
But it seems that CSU is feeling the brunt of the budget battle. The assembly will again begin budget negotiations, and maybe for the ninth time, will fail to reach an agreement. Governor Rauner will not sign a new budget without concessions from Democrats, one of which includes eliminating collective bargaining rights for state employees.
That would include employees for Chicago State University.
In the end, these layoffs and all of CSU’s financial woes end up hurting the students. Without employees, the school cannot run. Without the school being open, students cannot learn. And it is not the fault of those who attend or work at the school but it is the fault of those who are sworn to protect it.
Could politics end up ruining the legacy and standing of one the country’s historically black universities?
The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.