HYDE PARK — Kozminski Community Academy may get an extra boost to its budget if enrollment numbers hold up, and the principal already knows how he will spend the money.
“It’s all going to go to pay for teachers,” Principal Myron Hester said.
Kozminski has 392 students enrolled in kindergarten through 8th grades, about 30 more than Hester anticipated when he drafted the school’s budget in June.
Chicago Public Schools switched to a new budgeting system this year that pays schools based on the number of students enrolled on the 10th and 20th day of classes. The new formula might be a boon to Kozminski.
Hester, who just started at the school at 936 E. 54th St., said enrollment was declining until this year, which he attributes to CPS’ decision to close more than 50 schools.
“Nothing has changed, our priorities are still the same,” Hester said.
A new teacher will start on Tuesday as the overflowing kindergarten of 42 students is split into two classes.
Hester said the school was able to get a lot of maintenance done over the summer thanks to volunteers from Chicago Cares and other community service groups, who came in to paint classrooms and hallways in shifts as summer school students shuffled from room to room. Only one small section of hallway is left to get a new coat of the blue and gold school colors.
“We’ve been really blessed to get all these free services,” Hester said.
There are still big-ticket items that need to be funded, Hester said after the Monday local school council meeting in one of the school's few air-conditioned rooms. Box fans were propped in windows along the first floor to cool classrooms sweating in the late summer heat.
While he figures out how to pay for air conditioners, Hester is moving forward with a new health and wellness program for the school.
Students this year start the day with 15 minutes of stretches and exercise and can participate in cooking classes after school. The new art teacher is leading yoga classes for the teachers that will eventually expand to students as well.