We have many questions about how the proposed cuts were determined, and why schools receiving Title 1 and SGSA funds received disproportionately higher cuts. While we agree strongly that the state must do a better job of funding education equitably, and should provide pension parity, CPS has to improve their practices of funding schools equitably within the district and creating policies that impact schools fairly.
Our understanding of these cuts, based in part on a slide from the 6pm budget meeting on Feb 13th, is that a school's cut is equal to 50% of any unspent non-payroll funds in three of a school's budget funding categories: (1) Regular Education Fund (115), (2) Title I Regular Fund (Fund 332) and (3) Supplemental General State Aid Fund (Fund 225). This amount is now a negative line in a school's Regular Education Fund budget ("SBB"), and costs must be shifted or removed to cover that negative.
A WBEZ analysis found that "schools with less than 50 percent poor students had on average $61,000 frozen -- or about 1 percent of their discretionary funding" but "schools with more than 90 percent poor students had on average $101,000 cut -- or 2 percent of their discretionary funding."
CPS school finance chief Ron DeNard stated at this week's budget hearing that "no federal Title I money allocated for poor children would be taken from schools but admitted that schools may have to make other cuts to protect that money."
Instead of forcing schools to cut after-school programs, supplies, field trips, recess monitors, and more, we recommend cutting the following first:
Trim the $37M in the Network Offices,
Trim the $7.1M in the Face Office
Trim the $4.9M in the Innovation and Incubation Office
Trim the $4.4M in Internal Audit and Compliance office which was budgeted at 900k last year
Trim the almost $7M in the Assessment Office and $2.2M in the School Quality Measurement Office.
Cut the $2.3M Personalized Learning Office. Trimming these offices could save $42M.
Also, contracts both inside and outside these departments should be re-examined:
Clout contractors, exposed by the the Sun-Times in 2014, like Jacobs Project Management should have their contract reconsidered altogether or at a minimum be asked to reduce their profit margin.
Professional services contractors with political connections, like Analytic Innovations, or those with hourly charges as high as $580/hour, deserve more than a second look, when schools are cutting staff to monitor recess or after-school programs.
The $12M in ed tech MTSS approved in August was simply a costly way to push policy of questionable legality---mandating delay of services contingent on time spent in MTSS.