For the second year in a row, Chicago Public Schools has found itself in the direst of financial positions. Having built a budget on expectations of state funding and then spending a year blaming Springfield, CPS is once again faced with with the challenge of finding enough cash to make its annual pension payment and while keeping schools open. When the clock ran out last year and the pension bill came due on June 30th, CPS was forced to borrow $200 million from banks. Last Friday, they announced plans to do it again.
While it’s troubling that the school district is repeating the same budgetary mistakes of last year, the district’s finances suffer from an almost total lack of transparency, as you’ll hear from several aldermen throughout the episode. It opens with an exchange between Ald. Leslie Hairston (5) and Budget Director Alex Holt from October 2015.