Individual Chicago public school budgets for the upcoming academic year were released Wednesday to principals, and they contain "no new per-pupil funding cuts," according to the district.
The budgets were calculated based on a Student Based Budgeting (SBB) funding rate of $4,087, the same funding level schools faced after school budgets were cut last February.
School budgets for the 2016-2017 academic year were spared from further cuts as "a result of last month's compromise in Springfield, CPS management efficiencies and participation from Chicago taxpayers," according to the district, which still faces a reported $300 million budget deficit.
"Just a few weeks ago, CPS faced the real prospect of unavoidable, devastating cuts. Thankfully, those cuts are off the table," CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement. "We will continue to tighten our belts, but thanks to the collaborative efforts of state leaders and Chicagoans that significantly reduced the district's budget deficit, our schools will open this fall with the resources to continue their remarkable academic progress."
CPS officials said the district will "undertake additional management efficiencies" in an effort to further reduce the district's deficit without making new classroom cuts.
"The past school year provided unique challenges to our school community, but today's budgets should provide relief and stability to our families and educators looking to the year ahead," added CPS Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson. "While we have work ahead of us, thanks to the deep commitment by our teachers, parents and the entire CPS community, the school year will start as scheduled and students will receive the resources and critical instruction time that they need to be successful."
In response to the new school budgets, Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey released the following statement:
While we are glad that 40 percent of the student-based budgeting (SBB) is off the table, school budgets are still lower than last year. Unacceptable school-level cuts continue, and to be clear, these fiscal decisions hurt our students. A short-term fix from Springfield cannot resolve the long-term damage done to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) by the Chicago Board of Education and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Simply put, our schools need sustainable, progressive revenue.
We've had year after year of reductions in support personnel to schools, and 'efficiencies' that principals have tried to wring out of their schools. There have been hundreds of millions in cuts that CPS claims are 'away from the classroom,' but that have cut essential programming from transportation, counseling, after-school programs and even school libraries. Meanwhile, CPS has continued its decades-long practice of furthering segregation by funneling capital funds (long-term debt) towards expanding selective enrollment buildings while neglecting the 'under-enrolled' neighborhood schools in their shadow.
Today's vague SBB plan offers no details on how these new 'efficiencies' will be wrung out from 'schedules.' More importantly, there is no mention of any city effort beyond the state-authorized, state-implemented property tax--an authorization that returns us to the funding structure that existed prior to 1995.
CPS states it's faced an 'agonizing' choice, although the choice is actually a legal requirement resulting from its own fiscal irresponsibility and unwillingness to raise revenue on those who can afford it. The real choice is the one that the CTU has posed repeatedly--choosing to raise revenue from the wealthy to make our schools whole and move towards the schools Chicago's students deserve, and not cede to the status quo of relegating urban public education to under-funding and worsening segregation.
TIFs and a corporate head tax will resolve the budget gap completely and result in no cuts to our classrooms. Mayor Emanuel, CPS (CEO) Forrest Claypool and their wealthy friends and developers should pay their fair share instead of paying lip service to teachers, students and parents.