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Ogden School Fears Enrollment Shortfall Will Spur Budget, Teacher Cuts

By David Matthews | September 11, 2015 3:04pm | Updated on September 14, 2015 10:48am
 Parents outside Ogden Elementary School, 24 W. Walton St.
Parents outside Ogden Elementary School, 24 W. Walton St.
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DNAinfo/Emily Morris

DOWNTOWN — Ogden International School, which was worried about overcrowding two months ago, now fears it will have to cut teachers due to low enrollment. 

Ogden officials anticipate their school will face $400,000 in additional budget cuts from Chicago Public Schools after the 10th day of school, Sept. 21, because its first-day enrollment was 70 fewer students than projected. The school already addressed a prior $400,000 cut this year by draining its reserves, but believes a new round of cuts will undoubtedly hit the classroom.

"We're going to cut positions," Ogden Principal Michael Beyer said.

This is the third year that Chicago Public Schools has issued school budgets based on enrollment, but the district previously didn't penalize schools for student shortfalls. CPS calculates budgets and enrollment projections before each school year, but for the first time this fall, will add or subtract from school budgets during the academic year based on how many students attend the 10th day of classes later this month.

Officials at Ogden, a K-12 school with two campuses, said most of the student drop-off was at its elementary school, a neighborhood school at 24 W. Walton St. that had historically been overcrowded. But this summer Beyer announced — and later dropped — plans to check parent addresses, which could have spooked Ogden parents living outside the schools boundaries, and contributed to the unexpectedly low number of students who came to the first day of school Tuesday. About 850 students attended Ogden Elementary last year. 

Any mid-year budget cuts would not save the school district money because the savings would be allocated to schools with enrollments that beat summer projections. CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner said that enrollment "often" increases between the first and 10th days of school.

"Our priority is to make sure that dollars follow students so that school budgets reflect actual enrollment, which is why we make sure the District distributes sufficient resources to all schools," Bittner said in a statement. 

Ogden officials believe $400,000 in new cuts would lead to three or four jobs, including at least one teacher, being slashed this school year. 

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