CPS Releases New School Budgets, Showing ‘Tighter’ Resources for Some Amid Budget Shortfall. Find How Your School Fared

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

Facing a nearly $400 million budget deficit, the head of Chicago Public Schools said the district hasn’t seen any “disproportionate” impact on specific types of schools this budgeting cycle, but noted that resources for some schools will be “tighter” next year.

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CPS on Tuesday published individual school-level budgets amid concerns about how the district’s budgeting process could affect its selective enrollment schools.

“Even in a challenging financial year, there are several positives to point to in the next school year budget,” CPS CEO Pedro Martinez told reporters Tuesday. “We will maintain the overall level of funding for our schools, but some school budgets will get tighter next year. We will work closely with our principals to make sure they’re able to maintain the current programming next year and that they have the resources they need to provide a high-quality education for their students.”

According to CPS, the number of general education teachers will increase, year-over-year, while the total number of assistant principals and restorative justice coordinators will be up from current staffing levels. The number of special education positions will also be up “significantly,” but the number of counselors and clerks is expected to “remain relatively steady,” according to the district.

With COVID-19 funds running out, CPS is expecting a budget deficit of $391 million for the coming school year. CPS and Chicago Teachers Union officials have called on Springfield to add additional funding for the district.

“It’s worth reminding everyone that our district is not fully funded by the state … but no school can be fully funded as we are not fully funded by the state,” Martinez said.

In March, the Board of Education announced plans to shift away from student-based budgeting to a new funding model.

Under the new system, instead of basing funding on the level of student enrollment — as CPS has done for the past decade — the district will guarantee a certain level of resources to all schools. CPS will then allocate additional resources to schools based on an assessment of need.

Find your school's budget information below:

According to CPS, every school will receive a “core package of foundational positions and resources” — which will include teachers and staff, professional development, discretionary funding and out-of-school time activities — regardless of its size, location or school population.

Additional resources and positions will be allocated based on each school’s individual needs, while large and high-needs schools will receive additional counselor and restorative justice coordinator positions, according to CPS.

Beyond the core positions, Martinez said the new budget model provides schools with additional resources based on student need, which will allow principals to use discretionary funds to hire teachers and provide resources they feel would most benefit their students.

“This budget sets a new standard for every school in the district,” said CPS Budget Chief Mike Sitkowski.

Sitkowski said the district relied on a formula they called an opportunity index — a metric that takes into account a school’s community demographics and historical factors to assess — to determine the level of need within a school community.

CPS said that schools with a higher index could receive additional resources, such as additional teacher positions, counselors, tutors, social and emotional supports.

WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times previously reported that selective and magnet schools could face budget cuts under the district's new funding formula, while some Local School Councils have refused to approve their individual schools’ budgets — a symbolic move intended to show their dissatisfaction with the resources they’ve been allotted.

Selective enrollment and magnet schools appear to be hit the hardest, but Martinez previously told WTTW News that the programming at those schools “is not declining.”

“The budgets are tighter, though,” he said on “Chicago Tonight” on May 7, “and we have to acknowledge that some of those schools will do fundraising to offset that.”

CPS on Tuesday again claimed that under the new model, those schools will “continue to receive the funding to support the robust and rigorous teaching and learning offerings that have led many of them to land among the state and national top school rankings.”

Because of the funding model changes, CPS said the new school budgets can’t easily be compared to those from prior year budgets.

“We don't have direct apples-to-apples comparisons,” Martinez said.

But schools that have had “historically rich elective programming” and very low poverty rates are likely to see tighter budgets next year, according to Martinez, while hundreds of other schools he said have never had even minimal electives — the higher poverty, higher needs schools — will see more resources.

Martinez maintained that through these budgets, the district has not seen a disproportionate impact on any particular type of school. But he added that “you can see a little bit of a pattern in terms of the schools we are hearing from” about tighter budgets.

“There’s no plans from my team to do anything different with our selective enrollment or magnet schools,” he said. “And our goal has always been the same, which is to prioritize neighborhood schools who never had the resources they had to meet the needs of their children.”

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

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