Jennie Biggs, CPS Parent and RYH Communications Director spoke on behalf of RYH at the CPS FY 2019 Operating Budget Hearing. You can watch video (courtesy of Generation All) of Jennie here. Text of the statement is below.
There are a few things in this budget to be pleased with:
- Budgets came out on time. We’re relieved that schools finally had enough time to plan.
- There weren’t massive cuts as we’ve experienced for the past 6 years, which totalled more than $400M to our district schools.
The budget has a few things we are deeply concerned about:
- Critical clinician positions keep kids safe, healthy and in the best place possible so they can reach their academic and human potential. Many of these positions have been gutted and are at disgustingly low ratios. Two examples:
- The recommended ratio for social workers to students not in high poverty is 1:250. Students living in high poverty or with trauma- which is our district- need even more social workers than this ratio.
The CPS ratio is 1:1200. Your announcement this morning is a start but we have a long way to go. And this has a feeling of a PR move. (331 social workers in 2019 budget (as of 9:00am) down from 339 in FY 2018.)
- CPS only has 229 school psychologists, no change from last year. That ratio is 1:1620.
- Special education support staff has also been gutted. There are 119 OTs in the district. While they might be in a building once a week, they have to attend IEP meetings and often don’t see students ever. This is a concern brought over & over to us from parents in recent months.
- Another concerning number: 123 librarians for the whole district.
Budgets are a set of priorities. This budget, like many budgets past, informs the public that you don’t value enough the social-emotional needs of Chicago students, many who are living in concentrated poverty with high levels of trauma.
One line we noticed in the budget book is that you expect $22M in TIF surplus this year, when there was $88M surplused last year. Get the mayor, who is in charge of the schools, to up that amount and fund more of these critical positions NOW so the kids of Chicago have the supports to thrive.
CPS needs, at minimum, 1,000 more social workers to meet the better than 1:250 ratio. In the wake of the CPS sexual abuse scandal, we say: put MORE social workers and school psychologists in the schools NOW so that students have a place to deal with the stress and trauma they are facing.
[Note: A few hours before the hearing, CPS announced the following: $26M investment into 60 social workers at 160 schools and 94 special ed case managers at 78 schools (40 ES; 38 HS).]
Press that may help explain our statement in light of the above announcement and the Chicago City Club Janice Jackson event: