HYDE PARK — The Ray Elementary School Local School Council has voted to cut a technology teacher and office clerk position to balance its budget.
“None of us like this option, but we can’t have a situation where we don’t have a budget,” council member Tim May said before the vote.
Principal Antonia Hill proposed cutting a librarian or technology teacher position to pay for a second art teacher and a part-time physical education teacher at the school at 5631 S. Kimbark Ave.
Chicago Public Schools is mandating that all elementary schools provide 1½ hours of art and gym instruction per week for each student. Ray also must add two eighth-grade teachers next year as it expands with the planned closure of Canter Middle School, 4959 S. Blackstone Ave., in June.
“Are you going to get rid of something so you have enough to cover it or — or well, or nothing, you don’t have options, you have to cut something,” Hill said.
Hill said the school applied for a grant to cover the new mandated teacher positions, but has not yet heard if it was one of 84 schools to get the grant.
In November, Mayor Rahm Emanuel tapped into the city’s tax-increment financing districts to pump $21.5 million into the Chicago Public Schools' budget to pay for the new mandate.
A spokesman for CPS said the list of grant winners was not yet finalized and would be released soon, but could not provide a date.
Hill said if Ray got the grant, the local school council could come back and vote to modify its budget.
The local school council debated losing its librarian, but sided on the technology teacher position after deciding it would have less of an impact on instruction time.
“You would not be losing a full year of teaching because the computers are not being used all year because a large chunk of that time they’re used for testing,” said Bill Schmidt, a member of the Ray council.
Hill and the council they were still hoping for an infusion of cash to keep all the current staff. Hill said she appealed to CPS for increased funding as the school continued to add grades. Council members also appealed to state Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago) for more state support.
“Write letters, we need more money,” Kirsten Easterly, who chaired the council's budget committee, urged the other members of the council.
Hill said she has arranged to share a P.E. teacher with Bret Harte Elementary, 1556 E. 56th St., to cut costs.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: