FAR NORTHWEST SIDE — Public schools from Portage Park to O'Hare will see more than $2 million collectively slashed from their spending budgets, following the sudden announcement of a citywide spending freeze that district officials blamed on Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a school funding package.
Dirksen Elementary School in Norwood Park was by far the hardest hit, suddenly losing 5 percent of its total 2016-17 budget, according to data released by Chicago Public Schools.
Downtown officials also took a nearly $400,000 bite from the $23.4 million budget of Taft High School, sending Principal Mark Grishaber scrambling to find cuts that don't force him to lay off any staff, he said.
"It's very frustrating," Grishaber said. "I feel like a kid with a paper route who's been working hard all day, and then I get back home and by piggy bank is empty."
This makes the second consecutive year that schools have been jolted by midyear budget cuts, forcing principals like Grishaber to play whack-o-mole with vital programs. This year, teacher overtime pay, professional development courses and facility maintenance are all likely to be on the chopping block, he said.
"We have a minimum engineering budget right now," Grishaber said. "So a lot of our bathroom and water fountain maintenance now fall on our [per-pupil] budget, and now they're draining that too."
Like Taft and many other Northwest Side schools, Prussing Elementary School's relatively large student population saved it from having to cut staff, according to Local School Council member Phil Huckelberry. But the cuts still throw a wrench into the gears of regular school operations, he said.
"When you're already halfway through the year and you've been spending money in line with what was projected, suddenly having to make changes can really blow things up," Huckelberry said. "So now we're just sitting here afraid, wondering what kind of shots we're going to have to take."
Portage Park school cuts
• Foreman College and Career Academy, 3235 N. LeClaire Ave.: $137,863,- 1.39 percent
• Smyser Elementary School, 4310 N. Melvina Ave.: $60,834, - 0.84 percent
• Portage Park Elementary School, 5330 W. Berteau Ave.: $89,775, - 1.17 percent
• Reinberg Public School, 3425 N. Major Ave.: $40,711, - 0.53 percent
• Gray Elementary School, 3730 N. Laramie Ave.: $63,009, - 0.66 percent
• O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy, 6024 W. Warwick Ave.: $53,666, - 1.27 percent
Jefferson Park school cuts
• Prussing Elementary School, 4650 N. Menard Ave.: $152,701, - 1.14 percent
• Farnsworth Elementary School, 5414 N. Linder Ave.: $103,327, - 1.67 percent
• Beaubien Elementary School, 5025 N. Laramie Ave., $111,004, - 1.5 percent
Belmont-Cragin school cuts
• Steinmetz College Prep, 3030 N. Mobile Ave.:$152,701, - 1.14 percent
Dunning school cuts
• Canty Elementary School, 3740 N. Panama Ave.: $38,354, - 0.65 percent
• Dever Elementary School, 3436 N. Osceola Ave.:$79,684, - 1.33 percent
• Bridge Elementary School, 3800 N. New England Ave. $114,441, - 1.45 percent
Norwood Park school cuts
• Taft High School, 6530 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.: $395,717, - 1.69 percent
• Dirksen Elementary School, 8601 W. Foster Ave.: $321,373, - 5 percent
• Oriole Park School, 5424 N. Oketo Ave.: $24,728, - 0.51 percent
• Norwood Park Elementary School, 5900 N. Nina Ave.: $46,722, - 1.41 percent
• Garvy Elementary School, 5225 N. Oak Park Ave.: $36,613, - 0.62 percent
Sauganash school cuts
• Sauganash Elementary School, 6040 N. Kilpatrick Ave.: $13,080, - 0.32 percent
Edgebrook school cuts
• Wildwood Elementary School, 6950 N. Hiawatha Ave.: $5,831, - 0.14 percent
• Edgebrook Public School, 6525 N. Hiawatha Ave.: $42,255, - 1.23 percent
Edison Park school cuts
• Ebinger Elementary School, 7350 W. Pratt Ave.: $90,574, - 1.67 percent
• Edison Park Elementary School, 6200 N. Olcott Ave.: $137, 863, - 1.39 percent
The School Board is expected to consider the cuts at its Feb. 22 meeting.
Last month, Claypool ordered four unpaid furlough days for all CPS employees to save $35 million.
School district CEO Forrest Claypool blamed Rauner for the cuts.
“Governor Rauner’s actions cement a racially biased funding system that is also the worst in the country for children living in poverty,” Claypool said in a statement. “Governor Rauner did not create this unjust system, but he has chosen to perpetuate it, violating the civil rights of hundreds of thousands of Chicago schoolchildren and threatening their futures."
Eleni Demertzis, a spokeswoman for the governor, accused Claypool of attempting to "rewrite history and distract from 20 years of fiscal mismanagement by Chicago Public Schools."
"Governor and Mrs. Rauner have been decades-long philanthropic supporters of Chicago students and teachers, investing their time and resources into improving education outcomes,” Demertzis said.