July 2014 Board of Ed Testimony: Budget Vote

Testimony given to Board of Education 7/23/14 by Jennie Biggs, RYH Board Member, CPS parent of 3

Infographic on school expansion (below and here) showing CPS opened 21,281 new seats over past 3 years shared with BOE. Printable version of Infographic here.

Despite a massive budget deficit and district enrollment lower than it’s been in decades, the FY2015 budget book lists 9,224new seats at charter, contract, alternative high schools and district schools.

Since the fall of 2012, this board will have approved a total of21,281 new seats mainly at non-district schools. This budget also gives an increase to charter schools for the third year in a row, bringing the total increase to 22% over 3 years at charter elementary schools according to Catalyst.

In the 2012-13 school year, CPS promised they would redirect limited resources to existing schools once they created a “comprehensive plan to right-size our district.”

This promise has not been fulfilled and this budget continues the trend of shifting dollars and spreading them too thin:

  • Chicago has 42 neighborhood high schools which were hit with $35 million in cuts in this budget. This reflects the shift in the  custodial line from schools to central office.  
  • So called “welcoming schools” lost 5% of their budgets.

The Board Of Education should

  • shut down the Portfolio department which has a $29 million budget.
  • put a moratorium on new charter and selective enrollment schools instead of continuing to invest mainly in these schools, exacerbating the profound amount of academic sorting that we recently learned about from WBEZ.
  • The Accountability and FACE Department could also be reduced.
  • The $20 million SUPES contract should be cancelled.  
  • CPS should put forth a massive effort to address the structural deficit by finding new revenue and working much more constructively with stakeholders

This budget again creates ‘winners” and “losers” in terms of funding but no real solutions for how to create equitable and high quality education for each and every child in CPS.