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Avondale Neighborhood Schools Take $1.4M Hit, Charter Schools Get Boost

By Ariel Cheung | July 22, 2015 8:20am
 Avondale's neighborhood schools are facing cuts, while charter schools in the area are getting more students and, as a result, more money.
Avondale's neighborhood schools are facing cuts, while charter schools in the area are getting more students and, as a result, more money.
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AVONDALE — Four neighborhood elementary schools and an alternative learning program in Avondale will lose a combined $1.4 million next year, while charter schools in the area will see gains totaling $1.1 million due to increased student enrollment and increases in non-classroom spending.

The Chicago Public Schools budget numbers released last week show the largest losses to Avondale schools reflect a district decision to end the practice of not penalizing schools for enrollment drops.

CPS Interim Chief Executive Officer Jesse Ruiz said shielding the schools from enrollment declines was 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.

Of the 416 schools in Chicago to see cuts amid a $106 million state budget crisis, the four neighborhood elementary schools in Avondale all made the list. Reilly Elementary School, 3650 W. School St., suffered the worst locally, with an expected $377,938 representing an almost 6 percent decrease from the school's $6 million budget.

But overall, Pathways in Education's Avondale branch, 3100 W. Belmont Ave., saw the deepest slash following a 43-pupil drop in enrollment. The school is expected to lose $580,767, with 60 percent attributed to per-pupil enrollment funding.

While charter schools in the neighborhood also lost money due to the end of the pledge to hold schools "harmless" from population decreases, most had small gains in enrollment that lead to an additional $1.1 million for the 2015-16 school year.

Here's how all nine public Avondale schools fared:

ASPIRA Early College High School: The first of its kind to partner with a four-year university, the charter school at 3986 W Barry Ave. will gain $361,034. The additional money reflects an additional 23 students joining its roster of 508 and other funding mechanisms for a total budget of $5.7 million budget.

ASPIRA Haugan Middle School: The STEM-focused charter school has a nine-student increase to its 578 enrollment total. In total, the school will see an almost 3-percent increase to the total $5 million budget.

Avondale-Logandale Elementary School: While only losing six students from its population of 769, the neighborhood school is expected to see a $248,048 decrease in funding next year, an almost 5 percent cut to its $4.7 million budget. Of that, more than half is from the end of holding schools harmless for past enrollment decrease. In cuts outside the classroom, Avondale-Logandale, 3212 W. George St., will lose $56,239.

Lorca Elementary School: With an expected 811 students next year, Lorca is the second-largest elementary school in Avondale. Still, the neighborhood school, 3231 N. Springfield Ave., is still expected to lose $114,210 following a 22-pupil drop in enrollment. Most of the cuts are driven by the enrollment numbers. The school will see a slight increase in supplemental funds in the total $4.9 million budget.

Pathways Education High School Avondale: Part of the district's alternative learning program for students 17-21 who want to re-enroll after leaving the school system, the Avondale campus expects to see 43 fewer students next year, bringing its enrollment down to 264. With the drop, Pathways Avondale, 3100 W Belmont Ave., is facing the largest budget cut to any Avondale school, with a 17 percent cut of $580,767 bringing its 2015-16 spending down to $2.8 million.

Reilly Elementary School: The neighborhood school — which offers bilingual programs in Spanish and Polish — will see cuts of almost 6 percent to its $6.1 million budget following a 33-student decrease in enrollment.

UNO Fuentes Elementary School: With a two-student increase to its 574 enrollment total, the charter school, 2845 W Barry Ave., will see an increase its $5.5 million budget by 3 percent, thanks to a $216,077 boost in supplmental money.

Von Linne Elementary School: The Spanish dual language elementary school, which gained one student, saw the smallest cut among Avondale schools and faces a $93,290 decrease in funding.

YCCS ASPIRA Pantoja School: The charter high school for grades 10-12 is adding 49 students to its 3,003 enrollment total next year. Overall, the school is expected to add $523,755 to its $43.3 million budget.

Chicago Public Schools announced last week 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.

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.

"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.

Contributing: Ted Cox

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