CPS released their capital budget on Friday announcing that that they’ll spend nearly $1B on capital projects. Some of this is good news, but we continue to ask, how did they make these decisions on where to spend, and how can we better ensure that CPS is using an equity framework to make decisions about spending?
You can read about the list of projects as well as the funding sources for this capital plan in this Chalkbeat Chicago article:
WBEZ recently reported that CPS has $3B in unmet capital needs for their existing buildings, but they’ve spent 60% of their capital budget since 2011 on new construction or new programs. Where does that leave the schools with leaky roofs, crumbling ceilings and walls, ancient plumbing, etc?
In addition, the $3B number comes from 2015 building assessments! CPS did not do their 2017 capital assessment as required by state law, so we don’t know if the needs for existing schools are much higher!
In this budget, CPS plans to spend $336M for existing facility needs. That’s a nice chunk of change and will help some schools, but that means $600M will go to new construction and programs. It also means that there will still be billions of dollars in unmet needs for students in existing schools. Who made these decisions and why?
Does CPS need a new high school on the near-west side right now if they can’t fix their existing needs? Should schools not on CPS’ overcrowded list get annexes? Who knows, but it would help if CPS provided a transparent explanation to the public on what factors they use to determine which schools are priorities and which schools get passed over for improvements.
By law, CPS is supposed to adhere to a long-term facilities plan developed with robust community input to guide their decisions, but the plan they have on paper is vague and their announced projects are not anywhere to be found in the document. In June, CPS Facilities did come out to do brief presentations on the draft 2018 Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP) for roughly 15 minutes at the end of CAC, PAC and LSCAB meetings. RYH attended some of those meetings and they were not informative relative to the budget that was announced Friday.
CPS will hold simultaneous public hearings for the capital budget from 6 to 8 pm July 19 at the following locations (register to speak 5 - 6 pm):
Truman College, 1145 W Wilson Ave; Malcolm X College, 1900 W Jackson Blvd; Kennedy King College, U Building, 740 W 63rd St.
Email us if you have any questions about this: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CPS unelected Board of Education will vote to approve this FY2019 Capital Plan at their next monthly meeting which is Wednesday, July 25, at 10:30 am, at CPS Central Office, 42 W. Madison. Online registration to speak at this meeting begins on Monday, July 23, at 10:30 am sharp at www.cpsboe.org.