Huffpost Chicago

Chicago Public Schools Could Cut Cops In Budget Crisis

Posted: Updated:
CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS
AP

(Updated 7/6/2011 at 2:20 p.m. CST)

For the last three years, two uniformed Chicago police officers have been stationed at each of the city's roughly 100 public high schools.

But as the Chicago Public Schools stare down the barrel of a $700 million budget deficit, every dollar of spending is being called into question. With the police department now demanding more than three times what CPS has been paying them for the officers in schools, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, the district plans to take a much closer look at the program.

Over the weekend, the paper wrote that CPS has been paying the police department around $8 million a year for the officers. But the Chicago Police Department has long insisted that that wasn't nearly enough: in fact, they argue, police supervision costs more like $25 million a year.

With Rahm Emanuel's election as mayor, his newly-appointed schools team revisited the question and found the CPD's claim to be reasonable. It agreed that the full cost should be $25 million a year -- and also agreed to pay the difference from the last three years.

That means CPS is on the hook for around $70 million to the police force this year, the Sun-Times writes.

According to FOX Chicago, the district is looking at a few ways of minimizing that cost. CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley said some schools could possibly do without police altogether, FOX reports; others could do with only one officer. And using off-duty instead of on-duty cops could help cut costs as well.

Mayor Emanuel weighed in on the issue on Tuesday. He didn't say that he would be cutting the program altogether, but he did say that cops who weren't active in their schools shouldn't be kept around, and that some schools might not need cops at all.

“If the school is safe and they’re sitting in there, then CPS management is asking a core question [about whether the officers are necessary]," Emanuel said, according to the Sun-Times . "But if there’s not safety, and they’re sitting in the room, that’s the problem. ... That’s unacceptable, regardless of how you do it.”

The schools have already attempted to cut down their spending by revoking a four-percent raise that was owed to teachers next year. That cut saved around $80 million.