CHICAGO

CPS: Property Tax Hike Approved To Offset New Costs

08/25/2011 05:28 pm ET | Updated Oct 25, 2011

Update: The Chicago Teacher's Union rejected Schools chief Jean Claude Brizard's proposal to give teachers a 2 percent raise in exchange for working a longer school day.

CTU president Karen Lewis told the Chicago Sun-Times the raise would be about $3 per hour for additional time worked.

“We fully support a better, smarter school day for our children but teachers are now being asked to work 29 percent longer for only a 2 percent pay increase,” Lewis said in a written statement. “To that we say thanks but no thanks.”

Read more about the union response here.

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The Chicago Board of Education unanimously approved a budget late Wednesday afternoon that includes a property tax hike for homeowners, ABC7 News reports.

The budget-padding move was well timed as Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushes for longer school days, offset by a two percent raise in teacher salaries, according to WBEZ. Schools chief Jean Claude Brizard proposed extending the school day by 90 minutes for kindergarten through eighth grade in exchange for half the previously agreed-upon cost-of-living raise the board rejected earlier this year.

Wednesday's 7-0 vote on next year's $5.9 billion budget means residents with a $250,000 home would pay about $84 more in property taxes each year, according to ABC7 News. The board hopes this will help close the $712 million budget gap facing the fiscal year 2012.

The property tax increase is expected to bring in $150 million, cushioning the blow of the $15 million price tag on the elementary teacher raise, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The issue of school day length, which Emanuel has kept in the forefront by comparing Chicago students' classroom time to other states, heated up when demonstrators, primarily parents and clergy, appeared at Wednesday's board meeting wearing stickers that read "90 more minutes now" and demanding that administrators close the gap, the Sun-Times reports.

Emanuel defended the property tax increase by emphasizing the positive impact it will have on the schools and students. He insisted in a conversation with Alison Cuddy at a WBEZ forum Wednesday night that his pledge not to hike property taxes only applies to city government.

CPS's massive deficit promises additional cost-cutting maneuvers including an expected cut in police officers at schools and less funding for after-school clubs and extra staff.

Emanuel continued efforts to mobilize the public at a breakfast prayer meeting organized by the Chicago Public Schools Office of Faith-Based Initiatives Thursday, where he encouraged a group of 200 pastors to speak about the need for a longer school day in their sermons this Sunday, the Sun-Times reports.

“The power of your words” could help him Emanuel achieve his education goals, he said Thursday morning, according to the Sun-Times.

Flickr photo by frankjuarez.

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