Emanuel Elusive on How to Pay for Teachers' Contract

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel today offered no specifics on how he'll pay for raises and other new costs in the Chicago Teachers Union contract, saying he would continue to look for savings in the Chicago Public Schools.

The mayor did not rule out a property tax increase. He chose to talk about unidentified cost-saving measures that he said will help pay for the deal.

"We will continue to find savings in the central office, continue to do other things we have to do as a city to bring the budget in line," Emanuel said while speaking to reporters at Chopin Elementary School in Humboldt Park.

Though Emanuel had to make several key concessions to the teachers union on teacher evaluations, hiring back laid-off teachers and other issues, he said the new deal meets his key goals.

"I don't describe it as half a loaf," he said. "I set out—there are educational goals."

The mayor said having kids in the classroom longer and maintaining principals' ability to hire the teachers they want are important parts of the contract.

Emanuel also did not get into the specifics of the likely closure of schools with low enrollment that could help pay for the deal. "I can't sit here and say within the first five minutes of this contract being negotiated, that I can tell you exactly what's going to happen four or five months from now," he said.

"Look, we have work to do, as we're every day restructuring, making reforms. We're looking at everything fresh," he added.

Chopin has an enrollment of only 273 students, according to principal Michelle Garcia-Jones.

Asked if the school might be a target for closing, Emanuel said "they have a capacity for more, but they're achieving great things.

"So when the school system looks at it, they'll look at what the academic standards are, they'll look at the enrollment, and they'll make some choices," he said.

Vol. 32, Issue 05

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