CHICAGO — Chicago Public Schools has reached an agreement to sell its downtown headquarters for $28 million.
The district put its headquarters up for sale in an attempt to cut its costs. The district will rent space at another downtown site with savings from the sale expected to total more than $60 million over the next 15 years.
CPS also has an agreement to sell a former school site for $3.5 million. The school was among about 50 shuttered by the district in 2013.
"CPS is making a dedicated effort to reduce Central Office spending and direct as much funding as possible to classrooms throughout the city," said CPS Chief executive officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a statement.
The Chicago Board of Education approved the headquarters' sale but City Council approval is still need because it holds the title in trust for CPS. The district also plans to issue new bid solicitations for two other shuttered schools.
The district is struggling with mounting pension costs and other expenses. Its $5.7 billion fiscal 2015 budget relies on a windfall of property tax dollars by extending its collection cycle into the next fiscal year to help wipe out a $900 million shortfall.
To fund fiscal 2015 capital projects totaling $466 million, the district intends to sell general obligation bonds although a final size for the borrowing has not been released. The capital budget includes plans to install air conditioning in schools, build a new selective enrollment high school named for President Obama, and other upgrades.
The use of reserves, a non-recurring revenue source, left the district with a structural imbalance and projected $900 million gaps again in fiscal 2015 and 2016. Moody's Investors Service in March lowered the board of education's rating to Baa1 and assigned a negative outlook, its second downgrade within a year.
A downgrade below the mid-triple-B level by any two rating agencies would trigger swap terminations.
Standard & Poor's rates the board of education A-plus and stable. Fitch Ratings downgraded the board in September, lowering it to A-minus with a negative outlook.