THE LOOP — Chicago Public Schools announced Monday that neighborhood schools will see almost $60 million in cuts districtwide, while charter schools and other charter programs for at-risk students would see a combined $30 million in gains.
In a media conference call on student-based budgeting Monday, CPS Chief Financial Officer Ginger Ostro said 238 schools would see increased funding, at a total of $68.5 million, while 416 see budgets cut, at a total of $99.5 million.
SCROLL DOWN FOR A SCHOOL-BY-SCHOOL BUDGET BREAKDOWN
"Money follows the students," Ostro said, adding that projected CPS enrollment for the coming school year is 372,275, down about 1 percent from last year.
According to the district, so-called neighborhood schools are expected to enroll about 4,000 fewer students in the fall, while charters increase enrollment by about 3,000 students.
Basic student-based budgeting would remain level at $4,390 a student for grades 4-8, with $4,697 for students in kindergarten through third grade and $5,444 a pupil in high schools.
"We're spending the same money on students regardless of where they choose to go," said CPS Chief Executive Officer Jesse Ruiz. He added that the district had previously tried to shield neighborhood schools from cuts along these lines, by holding principals "harmless" for enrollment levels below projections, but that is no longer possible with CPS facing more than $100 million in new state cuts in funding, as well as the state dropping a $50 million pension payment.
Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, said the cuts would do "real harm" to community schools, and "principals will be forced to lay off staff" as they meet their given budgets. "It's that simple," Sharkey said.
Ted Cox breaks down CPS' cuts and how the CTU is responding:
The education-advocacy organization Raise Your Hand scoffed at Ruiz's explanation in a statement Monday, saying, "Our children certainly didn't ask for the state to be last in the nation for education funding contributions.
“Our children did not ask CPS and the city to open new schools in areas of declining enrollment and spread resources so thin that many schools would lose of hundreds of thousands of dollars again this year," the Raise Your Hand statement added. "Our children did not ask CPS and the city to refuse to renegotiate toxic-swap bank deals or to agree to new spending on non-essential consulting contracts."
Gage Park High School is facing a $1.35 million cut as enrollment drops by 157 students to 336, while Harlan High School on the South Side is trimmed $1.25 million with enrollment falling by 91 to 660 students.
Meanwhile, the expanded Jones College Prep in the Loop got a $1.45 million increase with an additional 234 students making 1,670 total. Yet other selective-enrollment high schools didn't escape cuts, with Lane Tech's budget cut $938,000 with a drop of 87 students to 4,021 total. Payton College Prep will see its enrollment stay level, but will see $362,000 cut from its budget, almost all of it in what's considered "supplemental funds."
While charters made gains, especially in new schools just starting up, they weren't immune to cuts either, with Perspectives Leadership High School trimmed $733,000 with an enrollment drop of 83 to 558 students.
Sharkey charged the cuts were disproportionately on the South and West Side.
As it is, Ruiz added, CPS is budgeting for $500 million in new state funding or pension relief allowed by the General Assembly, and will have to borrow that money if the state does not produce it in some manner.
"We're gonna continue to work with Springfield," Ruiz said. "I'm gonna keep banging that drum."
"It's not clear that the district has the money to pay for these budgets yet," Sharkey said, adding that the current CPS budget is "based on fantasy at this point." Sharkey insisted the schools needed to draw on more "progressive" forms of revenue, including taxes on those "who can afford to pay it."
The district made a required $634 million teacher pension payment at the end of June, but Ruiz said it still faces a projected $1.1 billion budget deficit with a balanced budget due at the end of August.
"Our goal is not to impact the classroom," Ruiz said, but he allowed that schools would feel the pinch overall, as in the end of funding for elementary-school sports, already included in previously announced $200 million in cuts.
"It will have to eventually increase class size" as layoffs "inevitably" follow, Sharkey said.
Ruiz said they were also working to keep teacher salaries steady. "The contract is still pending," he said, as CPS continues to negotiate with CTU on a one-year extension. "We don't discuss contract negotiations," he added, but did say they had had "productive conversations," and he was hopeful teachers would not be picking up their own pension contributions, which they have said would result in a 7 percent cut in take-home pay.
"We've got a mature collective-bargaining relationship with the Board of Education," Sharkey said. "No one's taking their ball and going home." Yet, with a state budget impasse continuing in Springfield, the balanced overall CPS budget due at the end of August and classes slated to start soon after that, he added, "Our scope for bargaining is narrowing."
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