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CPS Will Spend More Cash On Kids Next Year — Whether Rauner Likes It Or Not

By Heather Cherone | July 20, 2017 11:30am | Updated on July 21, 2017 11:16am
 Schools will get a per-pupil funding boost this school year, though the overall CPS budget will be cut by about $43 million because of a decline in student enrollment.
Schools will get a per-pupil funding boost this school year, though the overall CPS budget will be cut by about $43 million because of a decline in student enrollment.
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CHICAGO — Schools across the city will get about $200 more for each student than last year, Chicago Public Schools officials announced Thursday.

The $2.28 billion spending plan relies on $300 million that Gov. Bruce Rauner has vowed to veto — a move CPS officials have called illegal.

The $300 million Rauner objects to would cover current and past-due CPS pension payments that he calls a "bailout of Chicago’s broken teacher pension system." 

"It’s not right to give CPS more than its equitable share at the expense of other struggling school districts," Rauner has said in the past.

This is the third year that CPS has built its spending plan on state funds officials do not have in hand.

CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said he would not allow Chicago students to be "used as pawns" in what he described as Rauner's political game.

"We will do what is necessary to keep our schools open and maintain the historic academic gains we have made these past few years, including continuing our efforts to reduce bureaucracy while investing money directly in classrooms," Claypool said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said Chicago schools will open Sept. 5 as scheduled — regardless of what Rauner does.

While schools will get slightly more money for each student during the 2016-17 school year than during the 2015-16 school year, the CPS budget will shrink by about $43 million, officials said.

Most — if not all — of that increase was required to fund the labor agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union reached last fall, Claypool said.

The CPS budget has been cut because officials expect enrollment to drop by 8,000 students. Last year, enrollment dropped by more than 13,800 students, data shows.

In addition, CPS officials expect the district to receive $40 million less in federal funds designed to help low-income students because of the district's declining enrollment and a lower concentration of poverty in Chicago.

CPS will change how it funds classes for about 50,000 students who recieve special education services.

For the second year, schools will be given money to carry the costs of special education in their budgets, a departure from past practice where CPS' central office picked up those expenses. Claypool said schools must spend those funds on special education services.

However, CPS officials said they would not hold back 4 percent of each school's special education budget as they did last year to fund unanticipated costs for students who qualify for additional services, Claypool said.

In addition, the amount of money the district spends on special education services will not be reduced, even though the district expects fewer students to enroll overall.

That move was roundly criticized by principals.

CPS officials also will add staff to special education classrooms to meet state standards.

At schools that serve severe or profoundly disabled students, there will be one teacher for every 13 students in a classroom and three aides, an increase of one aide, officials said.

At schools that serve mild or moderately disabled students, there will be one teacher for every 13 students in a classroom and two aides, an increase of one aide on average, officials said.

That means the district will fund 34 new teaching positions and 68 new positions for aides, officials said.

Principals and local school councils have until Wednesday to submit spending plans to CPS officials. The final budget for each school is expected to be released Aug. 7, Claypool said.