CHICAGO (CBS) –Drastic cuts leading to teacher layoffs and dramatically higher class sizes could hit Chicago classrooms in the first week of February.

Meantime, the Chicago Teachers Union is warning its members to start saving money to get ready for a strike.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports it’s both pretty simple and quite complicated. The teachers want a new contract and more money. CPS not only doesn’t have any more money, but may not be able to finish the school year with what it has. So what we have here is a three-way fight, with Chicago public school students caught in the middle.

“All roads lead through Springfield,” said Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool. “We cannot solve this crisis without Springfield stepping up first.”

“Chicago has been responsible for its own teachers’ pension for 100 years so to somehow say, wow, all of a sudden we have a crisis and Springfield caused it or so Springfield isn’t doing their fair share, that’s just wrong.”

But CPS says over the past seven years state funding per-pupil has decreased 10 percent in Chicago while increasing 40 percent everywhere else, with Chicago now receiving 26 percent less per-pupil than the rest of the state’s districts.

CTU president Karen Lewis upped the ante by announcing what she called practice strike votes in all schools later this week and a huge rally in Grant Park right before Thanksgiving. She is also urging the teachers to save 25 percent of their pay in anticipation of a strike.

“You can’t blow up schools because you don’t have any money, you have to figure out some other way to do this,” Lewis said.

The vote would test which contract issues are most important to teachers and test support for a walkout.

Lewis says the layoffs would mean disruption for 175,000 students.

“You can go from what should be 28 to easily 37 to 40 kids in a class,” Lewis said. “All you’re gonna do is run middle class parents out of the system.”

The 25 percent figure ironically matched what Claypool called a 25 percent shortfall, $480 million of the $2 billion classroom budgets if there’s no action in Springfield.

“I would be extraordinarily upset if any teacher lost his or her job because of a budget problem right now, but I’ll also be crystal clear that we at the state level are also not going to take action to help Chicago if Chicago refuses to help the state,” said Governor Bruce Rauner.

Claypool wants a change in the school funding formula.

“Address the funding inequity here in Chicago,” Claypool said. “If you want to go back to your ideological wars, Governor Rauner and others, fine but don’t hold Chicago hostage, don’t hold Chicago kids hostage.”

Claypool says he’ll start meeting with principals right after Thanksgiving, giving them the bad news about how much they’ll have to cut by laying off teachers, increasing class size or eliminating other programs to balance their new doomsday budgets.