Board of Education Approves $9.4B Chicago Public Schools Budget, Renews Resource Officer Contract

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

Chicago’s Board of Education has voted to approve a new $9.4 billion budget for the academic year and renewed a contract to provide resource officers in dozens of high schools across the city.

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The votes came during the board’s monthly meeting Wednesday.

The district’s budget for the 2024 fiscal year will contain $4.8 billion in school-level funding, which officials said is an increase of more than $240 million over last year. That’s also up approximately $90 million from the $150 million increase district officials said they anticipated back in April.

CPS said around 10% of schools would see their individual budgets flatline or drop in the fall, while the other 90% of schools will see increased funding compared to last year. According to the district, the budget also includes $128 million in additional funding for special education teachers and paraprofessionals, and $32 million in new funding for teaching positions within the district’s highest-need schools.

CPS officials did note they still face “long-term financial challenges” and are $1.4 billion short of adequate funding due to the state’s funding formula. The Civic Federation, a fiscal watchdog group, issued a report this week indicating it has “significant reservations” about the long-term viability of the district's finances.

“With no guarantee that State or local revenues will be able to keep up with rising expenditures, and no long-term plan in place, the Civic Federation has substantial concerns about how the District will handle a budget shortfall without further straining property taxpayers or reversing the fiscal progress made in recent years,” the organization stated in its report.

The board on Wednesday also approved a one-year contract renewal with the Chicago Police Department to provide school resource officers in some high school buildings.

CPS began allowing individual local school councils to vote on whether they wanted to add, maintain or eliminate SRO positions at their schools. The district has also retooled its agreements with the police department to better define an SRO’s responsibilities and to give school leaders more control over the officers in their buildings.

“A safe school is a place that gives students a chance to learn in all the ways that they may need,” Natalya Miner, a junior at William Howard Taft High School, said in a statement Wednesday. “A safe school also means teachers have freedom to be creative and innovative and administrators are present and available, engaging deeply and often with students.”

Austin High School’s LSC voted to remove one of its two resource officers, while Marshall High School’s LSC voted to remove both of its SROs. With those moves, there will now be 57 SROs total across 39 high school campuses, according to Jadine Chou, the district’s chief of safety and security.

Chou said that marks a 47% decrease in the number of SROs across CPS since 2020, when the district began rethinking its approach to school safety.

Board member Elizabeth Todd-Breland, who previously expressed concerns that schools serving mostly Black students remain overrepresented among those employing SROs, voted against the contract Wednesday.

As schools have eliminated SRO positions, CPS reallocated $3.9 million to support community-centered and holistic safety solutions through collaborations with community partners.

“This is not just about SROs, this is about holistic safety,” Chou told the board Wednesday. “The goal here is to make sure that we have safe schools, but in doing so, we’re doing it in a way that engages communities.”

Even though there will be fewer SROs, the cost of the district’s contract renewal will actually increase slightly — from $10.2 million last year to more than $10.3 million this year — due to increased salaries for the CPD officers assigned to schools.

Chou previously stated that CPS is planning to conduct research to assess the impact of SROs, both at schools that still use resource officers and also at ones that have removed them from their buildings.

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson[email protected] | (773) 509-5431

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