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Logan Square Schools Feel Sting of Budget Cuts

 Goethe Kindergarten teacher Laura LeQuesne Filipiak with her students. Goethe Elementary is among many schools across the city facing deep budget cuts.
Goethe Kindergarten teacher Laura LeQuesne Filipiak with her students. Goethe Elementary is among many schools across the city facing deep budget cuts.
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DNAInfo/Victoria Johnson

LOGAN SQUARE — They avoided the school closures, but Logan Square schools — along with others across the city — are now feeling the pain of significant budget cuts.

"I'm really about ready to cry," said Darwin Elementary School Council Member Erin Rensink.

Darwin — underutilized by CPS standards — will see its $5.5 million budget cut by $723,000, according to its local school council.

For the first time, CPS is allotting funds to schools on a per-student basis. In previous years, schools received per-position, not per-student, funding from the district's Central Office.

CPS says the old way was "an outdated formula that dictated specific numbers and types of positions to fill within schools" and that the new process gives principals more flexibility.

Parents are not buying it, though.

"CPS said they're not going to cut programs, they're not going to cut funding and it's just a lie," said Cassandre Creswell, a Goethe Elementary parent. "It's just a joke."

Goethe Elementary — considered by CPS to be in the "efficient" utilization category — made out a lot better, but still saw a bite taken out of its budget, amounting to about $265,000 of its $5.8 million yearly spending plan.

Creswell said another $100,000 of budget items that used to come out of the CPS central budget will now have to paid for out of the school's, including janitorial supplies and pay for substitute teachers.

Like other schools seeing budget cuts, CPS has told Goethe's principal could also to take on more than 50 students from closing schools, she said, increasing class sizes and further stretching the budget.

"It's a little crazy," she said.

Facing a budget gap of nearly $1 billion, CPS touts the change as a more efficient way to spend its limited dollars.

"CPS has not cut funding to any of the core programs supporting student learning: full-day kindergarten, the full school day, etc.," a CPS spokesperson said in a statement. "There are no increases to class size, and these budgets do not include any cuts to positions related to the student-based budgeting process."

Parents, however are not convinced.

Another Darwin Elementary parent and Local School Council member noted his frustration Thursday.

"I think the city should just come forward and admit it doesn't want to manage schools anymore instead of just slowly suffocate them all to death with budget cuts and unrealistic class sizes for adequate funding,"  Jeffrey Karova wrote in an email. "This method is bad for everyone, especially the children. I was in my daughter's pre-k classroom this morning, looking at her when I heard the news, and I just got sad and angry.

"... If the city isn't going to properly fund our schools, and CPS is going to tow the line, neither of them deserve the authority, responsibility and privilege to educate our children."