PORTAGE PARK — Portage Park Elementary School will see its budget slashed by more than $900,000 next year, according to a spending plan approved Wednesday night.
"I don't think parents know how bad these cuts are," said Principal Maureen Ready, adding she was not certain it is possible to operate on the amount of money the Chicago Public Schools plans to give the far Northwest Side neighborhood school at 5330 W. Berteau Ave.
One English as a Second Language teacher will be laid off, as well as one special education teacher. One part-time bilingual teacher and one part-time art teacher will also be let go, along with three members of the school's support staff.
"This is totally unacceptable," said Mary Jo Banks, the paraprofessional representative to the school's Local School Council. "It is just terrible what they are doing to education."
The new method of budgeting will give principals more flexibility and replace an outdated formula, CPS officials said.
Schools will receive $4,429 for every student in kindergarten through third grade and $4,140 for students in fourth through eighth grade.
The LSC grudgingly approved the budget, with many members groaning as if in pain before casting their votes.
"This is mind-boggling to me," council parent representative Mary Conneely-MacFadyen said.
The cuts mean the school will not be able to add another third grade class, which means there will be 30 students per class rather than the 22 to 25 that Ready said she would prefer. There are currently five second-grade classes, but next year there will be four third-grade classes.
In addition, the school will have to set aside $48,000 to pay for substitutes to cover classes for teachers who take more than seven sick and personal days, although the contract between the district and Chicago Teachers Union allows teachers to take 13 days off during the school year.
"I'm upset about this," Ready said. "CPS has put us in a hard spot. Everyone should be able to take their days off."
The school will not be able to offer its teachers any professional development this year because of the cuts, Ready said.
The school will set aside another $25,000 to pay for toilet paper, soap, hand sanitizer, brooms and mops — but Ready said she doubts that will be enough for the school's 1,110 students.
"I don't know how we're supposed to make it with about $150 a kid for paper, toilet paper, soap and everything else," said LSC parent representative Jennifer Weissner. "I can't wrap my brain around these cuts."
Although the school spent $160,000 on technology last year, only $32,000 is budgeted for next year, Ready said. In addition, the budget calls for only $20,000 to spent next year on textbooks, although the school spent $60,000 this year.
In addition, CPS will take two-thirds of the $60,000 generated by the two cell phone towers on the school's roof.
"I'm calling it stealing," Weissner said. "It's a travesty."