RYH Statements: CPS FY2020 Budget Hearings

We attended and spoke at the CPS FY2020 budget hearings. The CPS budget web page is here. The CPS web page for the FY2020 capital plan is here. Our statements, plus some press coverage, are below. 

CPS operating budget hearing, Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Jennie Biggs, CPS Parent & Raise Your Hand Communications and Outreach Director

Every budget hearing should be held in the neighborhoods. As evidenced in the empty seats behind me. This would increase parent, educator, and community access. Whose values does it serve to have it in this location and not in our neighborhoods, near our families? 

While we appreciate the changes made to the monthly Board Of Ed process and format, this spirit and commitment of increased community engagement, access, and transparency needs to be formalized into a model for all future Chicago and CPS community engagement. 

In its analysis of the FY2020 CPS budget, Chalkbeat Chicago includes this quote: “Experts say the relative size of Chicago’s education bureaucracy, about 5% of the district’s operating budget, is bigger than other large urban school districts, even as the city has moved toward a more decentralized approach to governing and funding schools.” 

This is unacceptable. Downsize the CPS bureaucracy and redirect these critical funds into schools and into classrooms. Then, priority should be given to the students and schools with the most need. 

Other things we want to point out in this budget...

  • Librarians have been cut- again- this time by 15.  This analysis was done by Chicago school librarians.* The librarians believe that there were 123 actual school librarians last school year and that there will be 108 actual school librarians this coming school year. 
  • The promised increase in social workers, nurses, and case managers- critical staff needed by students and educators across the city- goes unmentioned in this budget. WBEZ reports that money for that promised staff is not in this budget
  • The number of Case Manager positions promised does not factor in the number of students who have 504 plans in addition to the number of students who have IEPs. 

It is disingenuous to say you are adding special education, nursing and social worker positions when you have had hundreds of vacancies in those areas for the past several years. You need to provide incentives, better pay, and improve working conditions to raise staffing to your promised levels. Otherwise, it is just smoke and mirrors.

Thank you. 

*From Chicago school librarians: 

CPS Budgeted librarians in for 2019: 131.4 (Our number was 123 due to positions we knew were not serving students in a librarian role)

CPS Budgeted librarians for 2020: 116.7 (Our number is 108-- see below for explanation.)

By our count, 108 librarians will serve CPS students in 2019-20 school year. The 116.7 number from the online budget shows budgets for 5 positions around $50,000 or less, which means this is a clerk and not a librarian. There are also 2 positions that are still being put in the librarian budget line but we know they're doing other work and not serving as a librarian. And, there are 2 positions that are central office, meaning they don't work with students in a school. That's where our number of 108 comes from. We’re pretty confident that's actually a conservative number, because many other librarians are also being moved to other responsibilities and the admin just didn't update the budget line. And often the librarians don't want to tell us because of fear of losing their jobs.

Press coverage:

Chalkbeat Chicago: Why Chicago’s $198 million gain buys just 100 more support staff: Teachers want to know

Sun-TimesCPS faces questions from public, school board over proposed budget

 

CPS capital budget hearing, Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Three simultaneous meetings occurred at Amundsen HS, Morgan Park HS, and Whitney Young HS. We had speakers at Morgan Park HS and Young HS.

Morgan Park High School

My name is Mary Hughes, I’m a CPS Parent, with Raise Your Hand and 19th Ward Parents for Special Education.  

We are happy to see many schools receiving facilities investments. We believe every school should get the necessary repairs and upgrades they need. Most schools have waited far too long for such investments 

Parents continue to ask Raise Your Hand: how does CPS choose who has to wait and who doesn’t?  Parents, schools and the public deserve to know this, and to have a transparent, more equitable framework where every school that has a crumbling roof or failed plumbing system is considered equal and worthy of capital dollars. 

Kellogg Elementary, for example, is in need of capital investment to make it ADA Compliant.  There is a currently a child who is wheel-chair dependent who wants to attend their neighborhood school because it has a strong culture of diversity, acceptance and inclusion, but they can’t because CPS has failed to make needed improvements to allow this students to access the second floor classrooms of their home school.

With respect to ADA investment, making buildings “first floor usable” does not make ANY multiple story building ADA compliant.  It does nothing to provide accessibility to students who are mobility impaired who need elevators or lifts to access upper floors.  Your money would be better spent making fewer schools ACTUALLY ADA compliant so that students in wheelchairs have meaningful access to more CPS buildings.

With respect to capital improvement decisions THERE IS NO CURRENT SYSTEM TO INFORM AND ENGAGE PARENTS- instead we have begging and politics driving CPS capital budget decision making. 

We continue to ask CPS for a long term, overarching, citywide Educational Facilities Master Plan which is informed by robust community engagement. This is not a crazy ask… it’s actually the law. As far as we can tell, CPS is not in compliance with this law.*

The current state of how capital plans are made is no way to run any kind of a system. Also, with billions of dollars in unmet facilities needs an EFMP may be the only way out in addressing school facility needs.

All students deserve well-resourced, well-maintained, clean, healthy, comfortable school buildings. And all communities deserve stable, well-resourced schools. The CPS Board of Education should engage in a transparent process to determine capital projects.

*******************

Whitney Young HS

Jennie Biggs, CPS Parent, Raise Your Hand

We are happy to see many schools receiving facilities investments. We believe every school should get the necessary repairs and upgrades they need. Most schools have waited far too long for such investments. 

Parents continue to ask Raise Your Hand: how does CPS choose who has to wait and who doesn’t?  Parents, schools and the public deserve to know this, and to have a more equitable framework where every school that has a crumbling roof or failed plumbing system is considered equal and worthy of capital dollars. 

It was nice to see that slide that claims that you have a process. That needs to be shared widely and with more explanation.

THERE IS NO CURRENT SYSTEM TO INFORM AND ENGAGE PARENTS- instead we have begging and politics driving CPS capital budget decision making. 

We continue to ask CPS for a long term, overarching, citywide Educational Facilities Master Plan which is informed by robust community engagement. This is not a crazy ask… it’s actually the law. As far as we can tell, CPS is not in compliance with this law.*

The current state of how capital plans are made is no way to run any kind of a system. Also, with billions of dollars in unmet facilities needs an EFMP may be the only way out in addressing school facility needs.

All students deserve well-resourced, well-maintained, clean, healthy, comfortable school buildings. And all communities deserve stable, well-resourced schools. The CPS Board of Education should engage in a transparent process to determine capital projects.

*The law that was passed in 2011 requires CPS to have a 10-Year Educational Facilities Master Plan or EFMP. In September of 2013, a Plan was approved and, supposedly, implemented. A 5 Year Update to the original EFMP was published last summer- it is still labeled as “Draft” on the CPS website and there was no real community engagement around it. CPS does a major disservice to communities when they don’t engage them and follow a publicly available plan that distributes resources across the city to address facilities needs fairly and equitably.

 

Press coverage:

Chalkbeat Chicago‘It’s not clear to me at all.’ How Chicago Schools prioritized campuses for building upgrades

Sun-TimesAs CPS starts investing in neighborhood school improvements again, some are happy and some feel left out

 

 

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.