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Mather High's Budget Cut by $1.2 Million: 'This Was Grim,' Principal Says

 Mather High School at 5835 N. Lincoln Ave.
Mather High School at 5835 N. Lincoln Ave.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

WEST RIDGE — Mather High School's principal of six years "couldn't sleep for three days" before finding out last week how much his projected budget was slashed for next school year.

"This was grim," said principal Chris Jones at a Wednesday night Local School Council meeting. "I spent five days trying to balance this — I'm at all zeros."

But closing a deficit left by a budget cut of $1.2 million came at a cost.

In all, Jones said he eliminated 10 positions, some vacant. By mid-summer, he'll have to let two teachers go, three security guards and one clerk.

The cuts, which are happening across CPS, are largely due to a new system in which CPS allocates funds to schools on a per-student basis. For each high school student enrolled, for example, the schools receives about $5,000.

But now schools are also responsible for paying for substitute teachers, cleaning supplies and even toilet paper, which public school advocates say puts an unnecessary burden on already struggling schools.

Jones said he wouldn't be filling one of two assistant principal positions after a retirement at the end of the year.

Mather's projected budget is based on an enrollment of 1,620 students, which is slightly less than how many were enrolled this year. Jones said he's hopeful to have at least that many when classes begin in the fall inside the West Ridge high school at 5835 N. Lincoln Ave.

"This is as tight as it gets," he said, moments before the LSC moved to approve the budget. "We're going to be bare bones."