LINCOLN SQUARE — High schools may have been spared from Chicago Public Schools' massive closing list but, as principals are discovering, they're not immune to the budget ax.
Amundsen High School's 2013-14 budget is $780,000 lower than 2012-13, as reported by Principal Anna Pavichevich to the Local School Council earlier this week. Staff at Roosevelt High School has been told its school is down $1 million.
"We're shocked," said Timothy Meegan, who teaches geography and world studies at Roosevelt and also serves as a union delegate. "It's absolutely demoralizing; it's heartbreaking. It's distracting to teaching and learning."
Faculty still is recovering from the loss of one-third of the school's staff in 2010, said Meegan, who's anticipating another round of pink slips for teachers and increased class size.
"It set us back," he said of the previous losses. "This sets us back again."
For the coming school year, CPS implemented a new "student-based budgeting formula, where schools are funded for core education programs and positions," a CPS spokesman said via email.
"CPS has not cut funding to any of the core programs supporting student learning: full-day kindergarten, the full school day, etc.," the statement continued. "There are no increases to class size, and these budgets do not include any cuts to positions related to the student-based budgeting process."
Principals now have more control over how to spend the dollars allotted by CPS and received multiple training opportunities to adjust to the new system, according to the spokesman.
"All staffing decisions are owned by principals," he said, "and they will decide how to structure their own staffing plans as part of their budgeting process."
At Amundsen, at least a portion of the budget cuts can be attributed to a lower projected enrollment for the 2013-14 school year, from 1,435 to 1,370, a result of the school's push to become more neighborhood-focused by enrolling fewer students from the far reaches of the city.
"The short-term outcome of that is a smaller student body, at least for a little while," said Jeffrey Newman, community representative on Amundsen's LSC.
The remainder of the funding losses are "just plain old cuts," Newman said.
"CPS is also taking a big chunk of the money that we earn from allowing cell towers on our roof," he said. "They call it an unfair windfall to the school."
According to Newman, Pavichevich had few details on how the cuts would play out in terms of staffing and programming. Another LSC meeting has been scheduled for 8 a.m. on June 22 to review specifics and either approve the budget or raise a formal complaint with CPS.
"Who knows if it would change anything, but we still want a chance to have our say," Newman said.
Likewise at Roosevelt, the school's Professional Personnel Leadership Committee, composed of staff members, has requested copies of last year's and this year's budgets to review before the next LSC meeting, scheduled for 5:45 p.m. on June 20.
"I don't see how schools are going to be able to function," Meegan said. "To close 50 schools and then these cuts. You're going to have violence with the lack of adults in the building."