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Chicago Schools Step Back From Brink Ahead of Bond-Market Return

  • District looks for aid, teacher givebacks to balance budget
  • Board seeks approval to sell as much as $945 million of debt
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A year after being cut to junk by all three major bond-rating companies, Chicago’s school system has won an influx of state aid, secured extra tax money for its pensions and quieted speculation that the crisis is so severe that bankruptcy is inevitable. Its bonds have rallied.

But as the Chicago Board of Education seeks permission to borrow as much $945 million, the nation’s third-largest district is far from in the clear. This year’s budget will only balance if teachers agree to pay more into their retirement plan and the gridlocked Illinois legislature passes an overhaul of the state pension system. School officials are still trying to secure needed credit lines to help pay bills and borrowing costs have ballooned after repeated downgrades, adding to the financial squeeze.