Chicago Public Schools said it’s focused on equity, modernizing its facilities and supporting students as they prepare to return for full in-person learning this fall with its newly released $9.3 billion budget.
The school district on Tuesday released its budget proposal for the 2022 fiscal year, which includes $672 million for priority facility investments throughout the city and more than $1 billion in federal funding for student supports.
“This budget invests in meeting the needs that our students face today while setting them up for success in the future,” said interim CPS CEO Jose Torres, who took over that role at the start of the month following the exit of former CEO Janice Jackson.
The funding for those student supports will largely be spread across three areas, according to the district: ensuring a safe return to in-person instruction; funding staffing and adding resources in schools in order to “maintain continuity”; and addressing the “disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and communities experiencing poverty.”
Specifically, that $1 billion will include:
— $267 million to support the district's two-year, $525 million Moving Forward Together initiative;
— $132 million to cover costs surrounding technology, personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, school maintenance, vaccination efforts and student re-engagement as CPS returns to full in-person learning;
— $100 million for air quality improvements;
— $288 million for school-based programmatic investments; and
— $178 million to fund school-based instructional positions.
Charter and contract schools will also receive $95 million from that funding.
“As we turn the chapter on COVID-19, it is imperative that we give all of our students the best chance at academic success and recovery from what has undoubtedly been a challenging 16 months,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “Through this proposed budget, we will be able to provide our school ecosystem with the tools and resources they need to fully serve students who require the most support.”
The full budget can be viewed here.
According to CPS, the budget also includes more than $225 million in additional funding for school budgets, $80 million to expand full-day pre-kindergarten classrooms and $20 million to increase accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
CPS interim Chief Education Officer Maurice Swinney said hundreds of parents, educators and stakeholders took part in community forums that helped shape the budget this year.
He said the district’s focus in putting together this budget has been on equity. That includes targeted investments to prioritize schools in communities with high need and students who have been impacted the most by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have centered a lot of the work on what the communities’ needs are as we think about how we move past the pandemic and re-engaging young people in learning,” he said during a news conference Tuesday. “And what we’ve learned from our families is that they are concerned about the serious challenges created by COVID-19 and they want to make sure that equity is still the district’s top priority.”
The Chicago Teachers Union issued a statement Tuesday afternoon criticizing Lightfoot for the school district’s continued reliance on student-based budgeting and for “failing to equitably fund our schools” despite “unprecedented resources” from the federal government.
“This level of investment from the federal government should mark the beginning of ongoing sustainable funding for schools at a much higher level — the level our students and school communities need and deserve,” the union said in a statement. “The mayor should be at the forefront of advocating for sustainable school funding, and not just temporary recovery dollars. She has the ability to address all of these needs — and it’s time for her to find the political will to deliver on providing every Chicago student and family with the right to recovery.”
The final budget will be presented to the Board of Education for a vote at its July 28 meeting. Before that, CPS will host a pair of virtual budget meetings for the public, which will run from 6-8 p.m. on July 20 and 4-6 p.m. on July 21.
Additional capital budget meetings will be held on July 21, 22 and 23.