We spoke at the July monthly meeting of the CPS Board of Education where the unelected, mayor appointed BOE unanimously approved the FY 2019 operating budget as well as a nearly $1B capital budget. Joy Clendenning, CPS parents and RYH Managing Director, spoke on our behalf. Her statement is below.
Budgets reflect priorities; priorities reflect values.
In under-resourced situations, decisions about how to spend insufficient funds are even more crucial.
There are trade-offs, and how you decide to spend funds, reflects what is most important to you.
What matters to you as board members? If equity, transparency, and process matter to you and if you care about remedying disparities, then you will delay the vote on the capital budget. After crunching the data, the disparities are astonishing.
Last week our sister organization Raise Your Hand Action, put together a ward by ward list of capital expenditures from 2013 to 2017 and budgeted projects for 2018/2019 using data from the CPS website. We discovered that $107 million was spent on ward 47 schools from 2013 to 2017 while under $10 million was spent on many nearby wards including 35, 33, 49 for similar number of schools. Then, yesterday, the Vorhees Center at UIC shared data showing the percentage of facilities needs covered by ward since 2013. The results further shocked us. Some wards had over 60% of facility needs met including ward 47, where the mayor lives, while the majority had fewer than 10%. How is this possible? How do you make these decisions? Where is your rotating schedule to determine when boilers are fixed, roofs replaced, mold abated, plumbing upgraded, elevators fixed?
We were at the capital plan hearings last week. Since we didn’t see any of you there, we wanted to mention that parents were begging for these basic needs to be met in their schools. Everyone left those hearings with zero clue about your process. Parents were surprised to hear about turf fields, annexes, and new buildings when they’ve been told there is no money for basic repairs such as fixing plumbing or heat. As one parent said: “I'm surprised you're going to build a new high school. Fix what you have.” Or from another parent: “Invierten en las escuelas que ya estan.”
CPS must do better. Today you are voting on an Equity Department. Halt this budget until that department can get involved and fix it.