ROGERS PARK — The embattled Gale Math and Science Academy north of Howard Street could be hit with a $310,000 cut in funding next school year, which would likely force school administrators to lay off two teachers and its sole librarian, officials said.
Last year, the school's budget was reduced by $448,000 when Chicago Public Schools began basing funding on a per-student basis, resulting in cuts for many schools citywide.
Gale Principal Cassandra Washington said Wednesday at the Local School Council meeting that the school had lost about 60 students from the previous year, and is expecting to lose more.
"They're predicting more students are leaving," said council member Kyle Hillman, who launched a book drive after the school was unable to buy books for in-classroom reading. "Since the school was in a cut-everything mode, buying books for the classroom was not part of the budgets."
Gale, which has been on probation with CPS for years for low test scores, just last year was saved from permanent closure.
Although grateful Gale has remained open for now, Hillman said it was the North Side's "forgotten school," similar to those found in communities on the South and West sides.
Of 440 students at Gale, 64.3 percent are black and 23 percent are Hispanic, while 96.8 percent come from low-income families, according to district data.
The neighborhood directly around the school has also been plagued with deadly gun violence.
"You cut over $700,000 in the last two years from the budget of a school that's on probation — that has enormous challenges, so it's kind of the uphill battle that is Gale," he said. "You're being asked to improve student scores, but you're being asked to do it with fewer and fewer resources."
Hillman said the book drive was the "first step" in involving the community in Gale's future.
So far, he and other volunteers have gathered more than 1,000 books and collected $245 to buy more.
"We need more," Hillman said. "We need a lot more to make this drive successful."
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