This Week in Ed 4.30.20: CPS Budgets: We have a few concerns

We hope you and your family are healthy and well. Please consider following us on all of our social media channels for daily updates. First, a few things we want to highlight...

Our newsletter today- found below the Mantras- includes the release of CPS school level budgets (don’t believe the hype!), LSC and Special Education news + RYH weekly Zooms, delays in CPS apps for PreK, Remote Learning Quick Links and more. Stay well, Friends.

~ RYH Board & Staff


CPS releases school level budgets: SpEd under attack (again) & SBB is staying alive 

On Tuesday, CPS released 2020-21 school budgets to principals. The press release and email sent to parents make all seem rosy and great. As always, we ask you to please search for the context, the history, AND attend your Local School Council (LSC) meetings to learn how the actual school level budget plays out on the ground at an actual school… typically, there’s a huge disconnect between the initial CPS press release and actual school staff levels, supports, supplies, and overall investments. 

Some initial concerns we have:

  • For Special Education Teachers, we see CPS again using a staffing formula that is not based on the actual need for Special Education minutes at the school level. (Remember the 2015 “All Means All” Special Education Budget debacle?) 
  • For Special Education Classroom Assistant (SECA) staffing, the 20-21 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), 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. If CPS fails to make corrections to this budget and goes forward “as is,” we will see Principals have inadequate funding to hire SECA staff to meet legally-mandated IEP minutes that CPS KNOWS will be in place for the beginning of the 20-21 School Year, Principals having to appeal for needed staffing, and DELAYS OF SERVICES come Fall. Remember the October 2017 WBEZ Investigation? Has CPS learned nothing from the April 2018 ISBE Inquiry and findings?    
  • Student Based Budgeting (SBB) is still alive in 20-21. If you are wondering, "How can this be?" or "What's the big deal?", here are some sources we are rereading that we recommend:

So what’s a parent to do? Attend LSC meetings. Ask questions and/or make comments during the public comment portion of the LSC meeting. Connect with a LSC member and/or a fellow parent and/or a school staff member to ask more questions to help you understand not just how the budget works but how that translates to the actual reality at your school. Concerned about what you are finding? Consider running for LSC! The elections are postponed so there may be an opportunity to run. Other ideas: stay in touch with RYH; keep reading & asking questions; connect with more parents; connect with parents at other schools in your area to help each other out and to learn from each other. Collectively, how can you bring about change?

Yes, LSCs can and should be meeting virtually during the COVID-19 physical closures of our buildings. One of the duties of the LSC is to approve the school's budget so there should be a meeting in the coming weeks. Schools should post meeting notifications virtually (via email, on the school website, using school social media) and physically (outside the school where it can be seen.) Here’s the CPS communication on LSC meetings during COVID-19. Try to attend the next LSC meeting- listen for school budget info (and for COVID-19 impacts to school families.)

WBEZ: Chicago Public Schools Get A Budget Boost Despite COVID-19 Economic Downturn

Sun-Times: Student-based budgeting here to stay, Chicago schools chief says

Chalkbeat Chicago: Budgets expected to grow at 4 in 5 Chicago schools. Find numbers for your school.


Local School Council (LSC) news 

LSC elections are officially postponed

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, RYH LSC work continues. We are hosting weekly LSC Member Solidarity Calls on Thursdays, 6-7:30pm. Join us TONIGHT, Th, 4/30, 6pm. This call will feature a listening session with confirmed attendance of members of the Chicago Board of Education and CPS for the first 45 minutes. This call is set up to bring LSCs to the front of governing our schools, decision-making and collaborative relationships with CPS leaders amid COVID-19. Register here. Upon registering, you’ll receive an email containing the login information.  If you cannot join us, please take a few moments to complete a short survey. All individual responses will be kept confidential.


Special Education news

Chicago Tribune: Coronavirus school shutdown has been particularly tough on kids with special needs: ‘It’s not just a disruption. We’re going to see kids who actually go backward.’

Chalkbeat Chicago: Core aspects of special ed law should remain during pandemic, DeVos recommends

RYH Remote Learning SpEd Resources from CPS Parents, Teachers & Clinicians 

RYH is hosting weekly Special Ed Parents & Supporter Calls: Tuesdays, 1-2:30pm. Register here. The next call is Tues, May 5 , 1PM. Dr. Jones, ODLSS Chief Officer, and Ms. Parker, ODLSS Deputy Chief, are joining the call for the first 30 minutes.

The IL State Board of Education (ISBE) and CPS both posted updated Special Education FAQs during Remote Learning on April 20. There are still a lot of unanswered questions.


ICYMI… RYH is 10 years old!

On April 1, we celebrated- remotely and very quietly- our 10th Anniversary! The world is messy right now but our work continues and evolves. Please consider a $10 donation to support us. Thank you! 


ACTION ALERT from the Network for Public Education (NPE)

Send a letter to your US Congressperson & US Senators. This takes about 2 minutes. Say NO to Betsy's Hunger Games in the time of COVID-19. She's set up a competition for funds to promote privatization! Link to send a letter. You can read more about the DeVos plan at Mercedes Schneider’s blog: DeVos’ “COVID Emergency” Competition Funding to be Awarded… in July(?)

BONUS! NPE has been hosting Conversations with Diane (Ravitch) on Wednesday evenings. You can find the archived conversations here.


Remote Learning in the news

As this experiment continues and evolves, the media has coverage of how it’s playing out on the ground. 

Chicago Tribune: Coronavirus school shutdown has been particularly tough on kids with special needs: ‘It’s not just a disruption. We’re going to see kids who actually go backward.’

WTTW: Pritzker Says Schools, Students Should Prepare for Remote Learning This Fall

Chalkbeat Chicago: One in five Chicago students lacks broadband. Here’s where they live

WBEZ Education has several stories in a series called Schools Out.

The Network for Public Education conducted a nationwide survey of teachers, parents, and school administrators. Here are the results: Emergency Remote Learning in Our Public Schools 


Language Access Volunteer Sign Up - not for RYH use only

This is a form to collect volunteers who are able to potentially provide translation and interpretation of news around services that will be offered. We want to use this to coordinate both with officials and grassroots groups. This is not just for RYH specific messaging - we see this as a broader tool that will be shared with other folks doing mutual aid or sharing critical news. Link to volunteer. Thank you for considering.


CPS applications: PreK + GoCPS (elementary schools) - DELAYED

PreK… If you want to stay up to date on when applications will be available, you should subscribe to this email list:

GoCPS… High school notifications were sent on time. Please check GoCPS for the timeline for that ongoing process. Elementary school notifications (and magnet PreK) have been delayed until May 8. 

Chalkbeat Chicago has all of the above covered here: Chicago to delay preschool applications, kindergarten admissions and has the IL PreK situation here: Illinois was rebuilding its early learning system. Then COVID-19 happened.


Worth a read

New York Times: Despite Trump’s Nudging, Schools Are Likely to Stay Shut for Months

NPR: 9 Ways Schools Will Look Different When (And If) They Reopen

NYC Public School Parents blog: After the Pandemic: Our Children Deserve an Education Revolution by Michael J. Hynes


Remote Learning Quick Links