Brizard Defends Proposal To Raise Property Taxes For CPS

UPDATED 08/08/11 11:12 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Finances are on the mind of Chicago Public Schools chief executive officer Jean-Claude Brizard, on the first day of the new school year for some students.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, Brizard is defending a proposal to raise taxes in order to close a $712 million deficit.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mary Frances Bragiel reports

He was open and candid with students about the recent budget proposal, emphasizing that he tried his best not to impact their education directly with any cuts.

But when Brizard addressed reporters about having to raise the property tax, he may have hinted that the mayor might have broken a promise.

Brizard rang the school bell and greeted hundreds of students at William Rainey Harper High School, 6520 S. Wood St. Harper is among about 25 percent of CPS students who started earlier than normal because they are on a year-round schedule.

“Good morning! You guys look fabulous!” he told the students.

On the budget, he told students: “We worked very hard to make sure we didn’t impact schools; impact classrooms as much as we could. We kept cuts as far away from you as we could – a very difficult decision; a very difficult process.

On Friday, CPS announced it would close its budget gap by cutting staff, salaries and services, and for the first time in three years, raising property-taxes. That would cost the average Chicago homeowner about $85 more.

The staffing cuts are of concern to students too.

“My favorite teacher got cut this year– my choir director – so that’s kind of hit real close to home,” said Harper senior Mayneatha Royal, 17.

But as for the tax hike, when asked about Mayor Emanuel’s involvement despite his repeated promise not to raise taxes, the new CEO said he it was only after finding $400 million in savings that he and the mayor discovered they would have to go back to taxpayers for the rest.

“We are not nickeling and diming anybody. We are looking to invest in the right places; again, we did our due diligence before we went to taxpayers for a dime,” he said. “You know, we’re engaging the mayor. We’re engaging the board of education throughout this process as we look; again, the bottom line is not looking impact homeowners. We stayed away from that as much as we could.”

Late last month, Emanuel said he was not looking at raising taxes because “the taxpayers, as we all know, feel nickeled and dimed as it relates to taxes.”

Brizard also addressed the longer school day and school year. He says he is working with the Chicago Teachers Union to find the best way to implement the changes, and he hopes to make them happen as quickly as possible.

Could the school day and year be lengthened during the current school year? Brizard said it depends on how negotiations go with the union, and he calls himself a total optimist.

  • ChicagoCitizen

    $84 a year? $7 a month? That’s nothing. If that’s all that is needed to fill the deficit, then do it. $7 a month. That’s almost like nothing. They better make sure the illegal sh!t Mexican families are paying their fair share for their kids as well!!

    • Roberta Waker

      You are absolutely right – $7 a month is a worthwhile investment in our children. Our school taxes usually go up a few hundred dollars a year and the schools still suck. Be happy to pay the $84; we would.

  • Jay Pierce

    No more taxes. Make do with what you have. The CPS education is a poor product anyway.

  • billyd

    Amen, Jay. It’s an absolutely awful product, yet we keep throwing money at it expecting it to get better. Why do you think Obama and Emmanuel send their kids to expensive private schools? They know the public system is a train wreck, and will be until the luddites who run the teachers’ unions are thrown out on their big fat a**es. Starting with that multi-chinned slob who runs the union.

    • Jermain Williams

      Obama and Emanuel send their kids to private schools to keep their kids away from the criminal element. There are far too many gangsters in public schools and on the streets. I wouldn’t send my kids into a potential war zone either. Until the black communities clean up their act and rid their communities of the gangster element, the entire city is unsafe. S.O.S.

  • McCarthy To Reorganize Police Department For $1M Savings « CBS Chicago

    […] But Emanuel’s office and CPS Chief Executive Officer Jean Claude Brizard defended those plans … Share this 5 comments // […]

  • James

    Why doesn’t BRIZARD take half of his huge salary and give to the schools so taxes wont be raised. They cut the tax break on school supplies but give tax breaks to LOLLAPALOOZA promotors.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live