CHICAGO — As schools face tough desicions in the wake of staggering budget cuts, CPS boss Barbara Byrd-Bennett told principals Wednesday that $36 million in state funds would be doled out early to help schools ahead of the fall session.
Byrd-Bennett sent a letter to principals that stated the money, which is usually given out in October or November, would be given to schools by July 15. The money is distributed based on the number of low-income students at each school and comes from the state.
"Over the past several months, I have shared with you the devastating financial crisis facing our District," the letter starts, before going on to lament the $1 billion deficit facing CPS.
Budget cuts to schools have amounted to about $94 million, according to parent group Raise Your Hand, which based data on 155 CPS schools that reported their information. CPS hasn't provided information about how much money was cut for each school.
The school system recently reshaped its funding process to become a per-student based budget, which Byrd-Bennett writes "provides unprecedented autonomy around how you can spend core education dollars and how you build your staffing plans."
But the cuts have left school officials scrambling to find ways to save money, which has included reducing teaching positions, cutting programs and even raiding closets to find extra funding. Many have said their budgets are much smaller than last year's.
The new budget process came not long after CPS made the decision to close 50 schools.
The $36 million to be given this month is meant to help schools plan for the year, Byrd-Bennett said in the letter, and principals can expect more detailed information soon.
"I want to again thank you for your patience, solution solving cooperation and your understanding during this very challenging time," Byrd-Bennett wrote.
Reporters Alisa Hauser, Paul Biasco, Serena Dai and Patty Wetli contributed.