RYH Statement at the CPS FY2021 Budget Hearing

You can read our live tweets here from the Tues, Aug 18, CPS FY2021 Budget Hearing. You can read our statement below. 

Mary Fahey Hughes, CPS Parent & RYH's Parent Liaison for Special Education

The below was emailed in its entirety to each of the below board members. The spoken statement was all of the below minus the bracketed explanation of SECA budget formula.

DATE: August 18, 2020


Miguel del Valle

President, Chicago Board of Education 

Sendhil Revuluri

Vice President, Chicago Board of Education 


Amy Rome

Board Member, Chicago Board of Education 

Dwayne Truss

Board Member, Chicago Board of Education


Elizabeth Todd-Breland

Board Member, Chicago Board of Education 

Luisiana Melendez

Board Member, Chicago Board of Education 


Lucino Sotelo

Board Member, Chicago Board of Education 



Katie Ellis

Chief of Staff, Chicago Board of Education 



Mary Fahey Hughes

Special Education Parent Liaison

Raise Your Hand


RE: Special Education Classroom Assistant Position Cuts in Budget 2021

Dear Board President del Valle and Members of the Board,  

I am concerned that 174 Special Ed Classroom Assistant (SECA) positions have been cut in Budget 2021.   When school ended in June, student IEPs reflected X number of SECA minutes per school, requiring a certain number of active SECA positions per school.  As there were few IEP meetings held over the summer, there is NO reason why there should be 174 fewer SECA positions in the budget.  I believe the ODLSS formula for SECAs is incorrect.  Several Principals, who requested to remain anonymous, shared with me that the current SECA Staffing Formula is incorrect.  They further shared that they knew that they had scheduled their school staff as efficiently as possible and that the staffing shortfall could not be resolved by “staggering SECA start times,” as ODLSS Administration suggested.  Even when ODLSS Network Representatives agreed with school Administrators that the current SECA staffing formula led to a staffing shortfall in certain schools, ODLSS Administration refused to budge on approving appeals for these positions. [Please see the email I sent you for explanation.]

[The  2020-21 CPS budget formula includes 45 minutes per SECA per school day that is not available for direct student support. While SECAs work 7 hours and 45 minutes per day (including 15 minutes before school begins and 30 minutes after school ends), the actual school day (when children are present and in class) is 7 hours long. Within that 7-hour portion of a SECA’s 7:45 hour work day, CPS is obligated to give SECAs 30 minutes for lunch and two 15 minute breaks, leaving the available time for SECAs to provide services to students as 6 hours per school day -- not 6 hours and 45 minutes. ]

This kind carving away at services is too familiar and will lead to students being delayed or denied legally-mandated SECA services when school begins in September.  Board Members, examine this issue and talk to Principals who have been denied their appeals for SECA positions. 

Remote Special Education requires so much more preparation time on the part of parents, teachers, SECAs and Related Service Providers and, if anything, the CPS Special Education Budget should reflect additional SECA positions to assist teachers who are working with students who need extra direct attention and support in order to access special education remotely.  Please consider using some of the Covid-19 funds to shore up staffing and supports for students with disabilities during this time of remote special education.  CPS needs to address the students who attempted to engage in remote learning without needed accommodations and learning tools, like visual schedules, timers, seat cushions, fidget items, sensory items, etc.  In addition to devices that  provide computer access, students with disabilities who have accommodations and  tools set out in their IEPs need those tools made available to them in their homes to honor their learning needs and improve student outcomes.