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Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool said Wednesday that "we'll know exactly where we stand" on a potential abrupt end to the school year after a Cook County judge rules next week on two key motions affecting the district's education funding...

Judge says he'll rule next week on CPS lawsuit over state education funding

Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool said Wednesday that "we'll know exactly where we stand" on a potential abrupt end to the school year after a Cook County judge rules next week on two key motions affecting the district's education funding...

Judge says he'll rule next week on CPS lawsuit over state education funding

Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool said Wednesday that "we'll know exactly where we stand" on a potential abrupt end to the school year after a Cook County judge rules next week on two key motions affecting the district's education funding lawsuit against the state.

The ongoing lack of clarity about the length of the academic year in a school district clawing through its latest budget crisis came as Mayor Rahm Emanuel declined to say if City Hall might intervene in the district's fortunes absent a favorable court ruling or miracle deal in Springfield.

"I'm not doing hypotheticals," Emanuel said after a City Council meeting.

The comments came after Judge Franklin Ulyses Valderrama told a courtroom packed with top CPS officials, allied clergy, community supporters and lawsuit plaintiffs that he would issue decisions on competing legal efforts April 28.

The district's lawsuit argues that the state discriminates against its largely impoverished and minority students, and violates Illinois civil rights law, by contributing more money to teacher pensions in the suburbs and Downstate than Chicago. CPS has asked Valderrama to issue a preliminary injunction that bars the state from distributing education dollars in what the district alleges to be a racially discriminatory matter.

It's not yet clear how such a move, if approved, would lead to a rapidly achievable solution for the district's immediate financial pressures. A series of skipped pension payments and investment downturns have also increased the district's pension obligations.

CPS continues to press for quick ruling on state education funding lawsuit Juan Perez Jr.

Chicago Public Schools in a court filing this week rejected the State of Illinois' claim that the district can borrow money to avoid an early end to the school year.

But in legal documents filed Monday, the district provided no direct answers on its finances. Instead, CPS said that it may provide...

Chicago Public Schools in a court filing this week rejected the State of Illinois' claim that the district can borrow money to avoid an early end to the school year.

But in legal documents filed Monday, the district provided no direct answers on its finances. Instead, CPS said that it may provide...

(Juan Perez Jr.)

For its part, the state's lawyers argue CPS has no legal basis to sue under Illinois' civil rights law and have asked the judge to dismiss the case outright.

The legal action is unfolding as Claypool has said school could end June 1 instead of June 20, and that most summer school sessions could be eliminated, given a CPS funding shortfall. But Emanuel has declared cutting the school year short is "not the right option, not the right choice," casting doubt on whether the city would follow through on Claypool's threats.

Asked Wednesday if he was prepared to let schools close if things didn't work out in court or the General Assembly, Emanuel did not say.

"A judge is going to make a big decision on a big case that CPS has brought. That's first," Emanuel told reporters. "They're legitimate questions, but they're not legitimate questions now."

State asks judge to dismiss CPS lawsuit alleging 'separate and unequal' education funding Juan Perez Jr.

Attorneys for the state of Illinois asked a judge Friday to dismiss an education funding lawsuit brought by Chicago Public Schools as part of the district's efforts to plug a gaping budget hole.

The state argued that CPS' complaints about pension funding and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto...

Attorneys for the state of Illinois asked a judge Friday to dismiss an education funding lawsuit brought by Chicago Public Schools as part of the district's efforts to plug a gaping budget hole.

The state argued that CPS' complaints about pension funding and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto...

(Juan Perez Jr.)

Word that the district's parents, students and employees would have to wait for next week's ruling arrived a day after a handful of City Council members criticized the absence of a public plan to keep schools open and close a budget gap that lingers despite midyear budget cuts and teacher furloughs.

The Chicago Teachers Union and some community groups have lodged similar complaints. The union has said it could carry out yet-to-be-specified labor actions to protest an early end to the school year.

A proposal from Ald. George Cardenas, 12th, to send more money from city tax increment financing districts hasn't been voted on yet. The measure also faces opposition from some aldermen and from Emanuel's office.

CPS officials have said the district would be about $130 million short of meeting this year's budget after a series of school budget cuts and furloughs intended to cover for Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of legislation that would've delivered $215 million the district expected. The governor wanted the measure tied to broader pension reform.

The district must also pull together $300 million worth of internal savings that were also needed to balance this year's budget.

CPS says it has emptied its cash reserves and ended last school year with a negative operating fund balance of $127 million. The district must still pay about $720 million to its teacher pensions by the end of June, according to the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund.

Those pension costs are at the heart of the district's lawsuit against the state and a group of officials including Rauner. Beth Purvis, the Republican governor's education secretary, said Wednesday that Rauner did not create the state's school funding formula while again urging legislators to pass a budget that includes overhauls to the state's education funding system.

Chicago Tribune's Hal Dardick contributed.

jjperez@chicagotribune.com

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