ROGERS PARK — In a year marred with a teachers strike and budget cuts, Josh Hartwell expected that Gale Elementary School, where his three children attend classes, would be slammed with another budget cut soon.
So when Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said Monday that schools district-wide would avoid a second swing of the ax after it did a head count last week, it was a welcome surprise to Hartwell, who chairs the Gale's Local School Council.
"I was like, 'What in the world?' — in a good way," said Hartwell.
After final enrollment numbers were tallied, CPS had planned to reassess how much money to give schools under a new budgeting scheme that assigns funds on a per-student basis.
The good news means Gale — at 1631 W. Jonquil Terrace — won't be hit with a $200,000 reduction due to lackluster enrollment. An earlier cut of nearly $500,000, however, would stand.
"It was a significant chunk of change that the school was looking at losing again," Hartwell said, and would have forced the school to cut a couple of positions.
Rogers Park's Sullivan High School, at 6631 N. Bosworth Ave., was also spared a second round of cuts that would have doubled loses to about $1.5 million.
"We were going to have some really tough decisions," said Terry Moran, an LSC member and whose daughter attends the school's program for autistic students.
But the cuts are only halted for now.
Beryd-Bennett said this school year would be a "time of transition" for neighborhood schools. Next school year, student-based budgeting would be fully implemented, she said.