RYH Statements about CPS Capital Budget

RYH had speakers at all three CPS FY19 Capital Plan hearings on July 19th and at a press conference held before the west side hearing at Malcolm X College.

[Statement as prepared to be presented at each of the capital plan hearings]

The CPS FY19 Capital Plan: parents want to know -- what about transparency, equity,and process? How can we get our children’s existing schools fixed?

Good evening. I am speaking for Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education.

Regarding the $1B capital budget, we have some questions.

  • How is CPS making decisions?
  • Where is the transparency?
  • How is it laid out for the public?
  • Is it a fair framework based on needs?
  • How did CPS engage the community on these decisions?

CPS did not do their 2017 facility assessments as required by law. This information is vital to the public and to having a solid plan.

We’re not against any school getting the necessary repairs or upgrades they need, and we are not here to say any school doesn’t deserve something. Most schools have waited far too long for repairs and facility upgrades in CPS. What we are asking for is information on how CPS chooses 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.

WBEZ recently reported that CPS has three billion dollars in unmet capital needs for their existing buildings, but they’ve spent 60% of their capital budget since 2011 on new construction or new programs.

In this budget $336M is going to needs at existing schools and $600M is going to new construction and programs.

Why is CPS spending so much on new construction when basic needs aren’t being met?  We think CPS should halt new construction until they improve their process of community engagement and transparent governance, and should value the needs of all students equally.

CPS must provide a transparent explanation to the public on what factors they use to determine which schools are priorities and which schools get passed over for improvements.

By law, CPS is supposed to adhere to a long-term facilities plan developed with robust community input to guide their decisions.

When hundreds of millions of public dollars are expended with no transparency about the process and with no oversight, that’s a problem.

The CPS unelected Board of Education should not vote on this Capital Plan but instead should engage in a transparent equitable process to determine capital projects.


Statement at press conference at Malcolm X, prior to the Capital Plan hearing.

I’m Roberta Salas, and I’m on the LSC at Murphy elementary and in Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education.

Our school isn’t getting anything in the capital budget this year despite $4.7M in needs, and I’m okay with that but I do wonder how the city is choosing projects and why they’ve decided to spend so much of their budget on new construction when schools built in 1924 like Murphy and so many others across Chicago need repairs.

I’m also curious why there is so much disparity in spending by ward. Murphy is in Ward 35, and when RYH crunched the numbers we found that ward has had $7M spent on all the schools between 2013-2017 while nearby Ward 47, where the mayor lives, has had $107M spent on their schools. We have a chart of capital spending by ward because we were curious where all the money has been going.

We need an equitable process that values all students in Chicago. CPS shouldn’t be building new high schools without proving need, engaging the community and  being transparent about what they’re doing. Thank you.