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Amundsen Budget 'On Very Solid Ground' But LSC Expects Mid-Year Cuts

 Amundsen's LSC approved the school's budget Thursday, which includes a reserve for mid-year cuts.
Amundsen's LSC approved the school's budget Thursday, which includes a reserve for mid-year cuts.
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli

LINCOLN SQUARE — The 2016 school year hasn't even started, and Amundsen's Local School Council is already bracing for mid-year funding cuts.

At Thursday night's LSC budget meeting, Principal Anna Pavichevich presented an unexpectedly positive financial picture: no teaching positions will be lost and the school appears to have gained a small amount of money versus last year's budget.

It was a far cry, she said, from the numbers she received in the spring, when Pavichevich was one of a handful of Chicago Public Schools principals who was shown a potential "doomsday" budget with 24 percent cuts.

Eleventh-hour stop-gap funding from the state staved off this worst-case scenario and Amundsen is now "on very solid ground," Pavichevich said.

"I'm not exactly sure how they came up with these numbers," she said of the way CPS rolled some special education funding into school's budgets, but a combination of rising enrollment (which translates into increased per-pupil funds) and staff retirements provided her with the wiggle room needed to maintain key programs.

The meeting's overall optimistic mood was tempered, however, by a cloud hanging over state funding.

Money allocated by the state legislature to CPS includes $200 million that's contingent on the passage of pension reform. No reform, no $200 million.

"The expectation is that [reform] won't happen," said Jeffrey Newman, Amundsen LSC community representative.

"We will be short again in the middle of the year," he said, referencing unprecedented mid-year budget cuts in 2016 that cost the school $290,000.

Amundsen is setting aside $300,000 in reserves, or approximately 3 percent of its overall budget, in anticipation of another mid-year take back from CPS, he said.

If that budget cut never materializes, the LSC will reconvene to consider proposals to spend the reserve on "something of lasting value," Newman said.

A breakdown of Amundsen's $9.8 million budget showed an approximate $1.5 million increase in student based budget funds from CPS. This included funding for special education, which was not broken out as a separate line item, Pavichevich said.

The budget also reflected a $50,000 increase in state funds, and an increase of $240,000 in federal funds designed to support low-income students.

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