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Jesse Ruiz

Interim schools chief Jesse Ruiz joins us to discuss the financial challenges facing the Chicago Public Schools. 

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Chicago Public Schools principals are finally getting a look at their budgets for the school year that starts in September. The district says, altogether, it is releasing $31 million less to schools this year, because of declining enrollment.

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Chicago Public Schools says it will issue budgets for schools on Monday. As reported by Chicago Tonight on Wednesday, many principals throughout CPS are growing increasingly frustrated that they are expected to plan for the new school year and finalize hiring decisions with little idea of how much money they will have to spend. It now appears principals will soon get some clarity.

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Chicago school principals are faced with the unenviable task of trying to plan for the new school year amid massive financial uncertainty. At a time when most would be hoping to finalize hiring decisions, they have no idea what their budget will be and how many teachers and other support staff they can afford. We learn what it's like to try and plan for the new school year with so many unknown factors.

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All of the schools in North Chicago have been in some state of academic failure for years. To address the unmet needs of the students and schools, a nonprofit was formed by a local family foundation. Brandis Friedman reports on the district’s transformation.

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At five CPS neighborhood high schools, students are earning college credit through a number of dual-credit courses. Those schools are also providing those students with a focused education on the science, technology, engineering, and math fields, or STEM for short. We take a look at how these schools work, how partnering with corporations like Microsoft and IBM helps, and why learning STEM benefits students who don't want to pursue science as a profession.

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Chicago Public Schools was able to make its $634 million pension payment on Tuesday after using borrowed funds and cutting 1,400 jobs. Paris Schutz has the latest on CPS’ funding crisis, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s long-term plan to address how school districts and teachers’ pensions are funded.

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Today was deadline day for a $634 million payment due to the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund, and this afternoon the payment was made. But school finances remain in a perilous state. We talk with the head of the pension fund, Charles Burbridge, on what happens next.

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Former Chicago Public Schools chiefs Paul Vallas and Terry Mazany will talk with us as part of a series of discussions we are having with education experts and elected officials on the colossal challenges facing Chicago Public Schools and what it means for students and parents.

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The Chicago Teachers Union says contract negotiations with the school board broke down today.  CTU President Karen Lewis says the district is threatening to lay off 3,000 teachers, increase class sizes and make $200 million in budget cuts. 

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In light of a recent report by Ernst & Young regarding the school district's dire finances, the hotly debated issue is expected to be front and center at the last board meeting of the fiscal year. This meeting falls the day after state legislators in Springfield failed to pass a measure allowing the district to delay a substantial payment to the teacher pension fund.

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The Chicago Board of Education is expected to sign off on a $200 million borrowing plan today to help the cash-strapped district manage its financial woes until the end of the month. But the massive cash-crunch facing CPS will remain and some observers fear that teacher layoffs and other school cuts might be inevitable. 

Daily Herald and WBEZ Series Focuses on Education and Poverty

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Credit: Daily Herald

In the first of a four-part series, Daily Herald reporter Melissa Silverberg and WBEZ's Linda Lutton take a look at poverty and education in Illinois. Their studies of state testing over the last decade revealed that the schools with the most low-income students performed the worst. Silverberg and Tim Broderick, data analyst and graphic designer for the project, join us tonight to share their results of the state Poverty-Achievement gap.

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When CPS shuttered 50 elementary schools a couple of years ago, the district promised those neighborhood schools would not be replaced by charter schools. But, as the city's 130 charter schools continue to open and expand, some are having difficulty finding the right real estate for their schools. We take a look at one charter school struggling to find a permanent home.

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Started by a mother’s desire to help other families with children with Down syndrome, Gigi’s Playhouse now has locations in 23 states in the U.S. and Mexico. Elizabeth Brackett reports on how the organization has helped its namesake and many other children.

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An Intrinsic Schools classroom holds roughly 50 to 60 students. Though, it's counterintuitive to what research says about smaller classrooms, the school splits those students into multiple smaller groups. Brandis Friedman takes a closer look at this unique charter school model.