KENWOOD — Kenwood Academy is bursting with new students arriving daily, but could still lose $100,000 from its budget.
“All our classes are full to capacity, and we’re offering classes in rooms traditionally not for teaching,” Principal Gregory Jones said at the school’s Tuesday local school council meeting.
The school at 5015 S. Blackstone Ave. is built to accommodate 1,646 students, but 1,840 are currently enrolled. The large student body has led to long lines to get into the school each morning and the quick conversion of office and storage space into classrooms.
Under the new Chicago Public Schools system that funds schools based on the number of students enrolled this would appear to be a good problem. But Kenwood set its budget expecting the overcrowding to be even worse.
CPS will count the number of students at Kenwood on the 10th and 20th day of school. Though Jones said he expects enrollment to be below projections, he said he doubts CPS will follow through with cuts.
“Initially we were told the dollars would follow the students, but every school in the network is under-enrolled, so where would the money go [if under-enrollment means budget cuts] ?” Jones said. “In my personal opinion, I don’t think it will happen, but I do have a reserve set aside.”
Jones said he is writing a letter the Board of Education appealing to retain the school’s entire budget.
Kenwood Academy already has made deep cuts to its budget for this year, and Jones said if the school loses another $100,000, he will have to cut a support staff position.
“We’re 100 students greater right now than we were last year, but $1.2 million short,” Jones said.
Kenwood now offers 110 courses and is adding two more on Wednesday to accommodate the additional students.
Jones said as an open-enrollment high school, Kenwood’s attendance will likely continue to rise after CPS does a headcount.
“We can get 200 students tomorrow, and we have to find space for them,” Jones said.
He said the size of the student body will not be capped, and Kenwood’s open enrollment policy should not be seen as a burden.
“In my opinion, this is one of the last high schools with open enrollment that is functioning, and someone needs to protect that,” Jones said.