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Shoesmith Principal Cuts Science Program to Pay for Toilet Paper

By Sam Cholke | June 19, 2013 2:37pm
 Shoesmith Elementary Principal Sabrina Gates (l.) works with the local school council to finalize the budget Tuesday evening.
Shoesmith Elementary Principal Sabrina Gates (l.) works with the local school council to finalize the budget Tuesday evening.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

KENWOOD — Budget cuts are forcing Shoesmith Elementary School to cut Spanish for all students and sharply cut back on music, science and math programming to pay for toilet paper and other janitorial supplies.

“Now we only have a half-time music teacher, so only half the students will get music,” Sabrina Gates, principal of the 1330 E. 50th St. school said Tuesday after the local school council voted to approve her budget for next year.

She said she couldn’t find room in the budget to fund the $20,000 per year Spanish language program and had to cut it entirely.

Gates was given a budget figure by Chicago Public Schools on June 7 that cut more than $66,000 from her budget and added new expenses the school was not responsible for in the past.

 Shoesmith Elementary School at 1330 E. 50th St.
Shoesmith Elementary School at 1330 E. 50th St.
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Flickr/Brule Laker

Gates said for the first time she had to budget $6,000 for janitorial supplies out of the school budget and she said it meant she couldn’t fund some educational programs. She said her budgeted figure is probably low, as CPS provided about $14,000 for janitorial supplies like toilet paper and paper towels at Shoesmith last year.

But the cuts are “big enough that when I had to put in janitorial supplies I couldn’t fund science tech supplies,” Gates said.

Those tech supplies cost $5,000, meaning one hands-on science program will get cut.

Shoesmith is also cutting math and reading programs, reducing teacher training and dropping funding for the drum line and cello and violin classes with the Hyde Park Suzuki Institute.

“That’s just a ton of stuff we’re losing,” said Lina Fritz, the community representative on Shoesmith’s local school council.

She said cutting programs like cello and violin classes will make it harder for Shoesmith to attract the brightest students in Hyde Park and Kenwood.

“You can’t replace Hyde Park Suzuki, that’s something that sets Shoesmith apart,” Fritz said of the $9,500 per year program. “I have no idea now how we’re going to fund that.”

Emily Fong, the parent of twin boys starting first grade at Shoesmith next year, said she was depressed about CPS cutting budgets after just closing schools.

Fong is transferring her two boys from the University of Chicago’s Laboratory School and said she is struggling with how to replace the options available to them at the prestigious private school.

“How can I even begin to give my kids the educational experience all our kids want and deserve?” Fong said. “I do feel good about Shoesmith, but I don’t think they should have to go through those struggles to provide an education.”

Principal Gates said she is hopeful she will be able to raise more money for the school and said teachers have been aggressively applying for grants.

She said she hoped more funding would be coming from CPS as well. Gates pointed to blank line items on the budget for sales from the cafeteria and vending machines, revenue she wasn’t sure she should count on like she has in the past.

A spokesman for CPS was not immediately able to comment on the Shoesmith budget.