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Swift Elementary Braces for More Cuts After $400,000 Loss

By Benjamin Woodard | September 10, 2013 8:56am
 Swift Elementary's Local School Council discusses cuts to its school's budget on Sept. 9, 2013.
Swift Elementary's Local School Council discusses cuts to its school's budget on Sept. 9, 2013.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

EDGEWATER — Swift Elementary School's principal worries an already hefty budget cut of $400,000 could be much worse when Chicago Public Schools takes into account the 40 fewer students the school's expected to enroll this year.

"We'll see. We won't know until the ax falls," said Harlee Till, who has been principal at the Edgewater school since 2006.

She said she had to lay off one of the school's two gym teachers and a kindergarten teacher's aide when CPS implemented a new system this year that allocates funds on a per-student basis.

Then, for the first time in Till's 7-year tenure, overall enrollment dropped — to 691 students, down 40 students.

Now CPS could cut Swift's budget even more as it re-evaluates enrollment numbers this week 10 days after the first day of school.

"Whatever it is, I hope it's not a lot," vice principal Salvatore Cannella said. "We're bare bones already — and last year I lost positions."

Swift's teachers, some of whom have launched online fundraisers this year to help pay for classroom supplies, are uneasy.

"Concerned," said teacher Darin Couley, after being asked to describe how his colleagues were feeling. "We don't want to lose any positions."

In response, neighbors have organized fundraisers for the school this year. Dori Gorman founded Friends of Swift and says she has raised nearly $1,000 so far at two small fundraising events this summer.

At a Swift Local School Council meeting Monday night, Till offered few clues to exactly how much more could be lost.

"We don’t know how serious it’s going to be," she told council members. "There’s not a lot of clarification on that."

"On the bright side, we did fabulous with our test this year," Till said, changing the subject. "We gained in reading, we gained in math, we gained in science, we gained in our overall composite" score.