Following the August Board Meeting - Looking at the Year Ahead

Yesterday the CPS board of education passed a $5.7 billion dollar budget for school year 2012/2013. At this meeting, CEO Brizard stated that we are facing eacing a projected $3 billion dollar deficit over the next three years at CPS. In this budget, CPS increased funding to charter and contract schools by $76 million and the Portfolio Office (the Department that oversees New Schools) by 26 positions and $4.87 million dollars. At the same time, many of our neighborhood schools, especially our neighborhood high schools, received cuts once again. The Board passed a resolution that CPS may drain reserve funds through the end of school year 2015. 

David Vitale, Board President stated we can no longer kick the can down the road. We’re out of one-time fixes.  But we haven’t heard any solutions from anyone at CPS regarding fixing this problem.

We expect more cuts in the coming years, and as parents who are in it for the long haul...that haul being the 13 years from kindergarten through high school...we cannot afford to ignore the frighteningly obvious issue of lack of sustainable education funding.   

This year, we will work on a funding campaign and invite you to get involved. In addition, we will continue to work on the elected school board campaign. The families of Chicago need strong public schools in every neighborhood.   We know that real parent and community engagement is possible and vital to the success of every school, but it can’t happen if the community is shut out of decision making process at the board level. Raise Your Hand will continue to advocate for the voices of parents, the largest stakeholders in CPS, to be included at the table. 

Our students deserve the attention, resources, and respect of the leadership.  A few weeks ago we learned that Chicago leads the nation in school suspensions (Chicago Tribune article) which is counterproductive – with a 5x higher rate for African American boys than any other group. We have hundreds of schools on probation. This is not a way to inspire kids to love school and engage in learning.  We need to do better as a system to protect, encourage and believe in our children.  And we must question – when CPS continually remarks that we have “failing schools” -what are the policies from the top that have harmed our students?

These are uncertain times at CPS. We don’t know if our teachers and the board can come to an agreement on a new contract before September 4th. We don’t know how the district will pay its bills, find a better way to engage stakeholders and find meaningful solutions to the many problems that plague our schools together.

We do know that parents will be taking the lead in looking for solutions. We hope you work with us in school year 2012/2013. Thanks for all of your hard work and participation this year. Email us –info@ilraiseyourhand.org if you would like to get involved in any of our campaigns.

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