Really depressing being in CPS right now

May 5, 2010 at 8:14 am 69 comments

My son’s school got word of our potential cuts:

Basically all specials are up for cuts.  Foreign language in his gifted program (no surprise there,) music, half of art teacher, possible loss of science and computers.  Bussing, of course, is up in the air.
I guess I knew it was coming and for each class, I figured I could deal with the loss of it.  It’s just when they take basically *ALL* of it – everything except sitting in the classroom learning – that it gets really depressing.  It just seems like a really un-fun day for the kids not to have breaks for other topics.   I suppose the burden falls on the classroom teachers to cover some of these topics, which means that teacher quality and energy is more important than ever.  But of course teacher cuts have nothing to do with effort/ability/innovation, and everything to do with longevity.  Grrr.

I’m also sad thinking of these people being displace who will have hard times finding jobs right now.  French teachers, music teachers, and bus drivers are not going to be having an easy time of it out there.

From what I understand, schools are being given the worst scenario, and then we all hope/beg/pray that more money will materialize from the state.  At that point schools will prioritize what to add back in.

Where do we go from here?

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Eek. The budgets. So 2nd round letters are supposedly going out today (Friday May 7)

69 Comments Add your own

  • 1. momof4  |  May 5, 2010 at 8:36 am

    If it makes you feel any better – the teachers contract requires that all teachers get a certain number of prep periods per week in addition to their lunch period. These preps can’t be achieved without some specials. I also believe prep time is state mandated, but don’t hold me to that. There will have to be some specials in order for the teachers to have the preps – they may not be taught at the same level as you currently have, but they should be there.

    I too am discouraged – especially having an incoming KG student and being told the magnet school gifted program my other 3 are at will not do anything to try and give the kids full day KG in the fall. We are supposedly losing 3.5 positions within our school – which is not nearly as bad as some have it.

    I am really hoping that sometime during the summer we will find that the state has given more money and some of these jobs and programs can be saved.

    I also am very curious how our school would do without bussing if that is among the cuts. Has anyone heard if magnet schools will get bussing?

  • 2. RL Julia  |  May 5, 2010 at 9:30 am

    In our school, new scenario is that the assistant principal will cover the prep periods of the teachers, so there goes one special. Also, depending on the school and how the specials are funded etc.. determines what and who gets cut. I think my kid’s school is slated to lose library and computers and probably .5 of an arts position. This is because the school is small and once you get under a certain number of teachers they start cutting the specials.

    I really wouldn’t count on bussing being an option under the budget CPS is currently proposing. However, if the state passes legislation (no doubt connected to increasing the income tax) that allows for more funding, things will go back to being more normal.

    I personally think that this whole school funding cut thing is a politcal ploy from Springfield get the income tax increase passed. People all over the state sit up and listen and pay attention when school funding is cut in a way they don’t when the state is zeroing out the budget for bridge safety and maintenance and road repair.

  • 3. anonymous  |  May 5, 2010 at 9:54 am

    I’m totally with you. I have no idea what the cuts will mean for my child’s school yet. However, you choose a school (we did “choose” as we moved into the district) for what you THINK it has to offer, then the rug is pulled out from under you.

    I really think we need to keep up the unified pressure on our politicians.

    I’m so sorry. I hope the cuts are not as bad for your school as you think they will be at this moment.

  • 4. Mayfair Dad  |  May 5, 2010 at 10:03 am

    I had a conversation with the principal of my son’s magnet school who told me bussing will still be offered next year — in spite of the other terrible cuts his school budget received.

    The only reason I can think of for this is the original intent of magnet schools – to provide a quality education to children who otherwise would not have access to a quality education.

    If you take away the bussing, the magnet school becomes far less “magnetic” to poor children from distant neighborhoods. This would have a significant negative impact on desegregation goals.

  • 5. howaboutcookie  |  May 5, 2010 at 10:57 am

    @anonymous, totally with you. a lot of the decisions we made came down to the “extras”, and even the core of what makes a school “good” (test scores) comes down to whether the kids have outlets through these “nonessentials”. heartbreaking.

  • 6. Carm  |  May 5, 2010 at 11:44 am

    A decision on busing has not been made yet, but we are not counting on it.

    I am surprised more schools are asking families to donate money to keep the specials and the teachers. Ours is–the letter was vetted by CPS legal and has been approved. You can’t compel families to pay, but I think there is a good chance that many will.

  • 7. Carm  |  May 5, 2010 at 11:46 am

    The other thing is the parents can complain to their elected officials and get them to take action. It is not too late for our elected reps to figure a way of this mess.

  • 8. RL Julia  |  May 5, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    The disappointing thing about asking parents to pay is when your school doesn’t have enough parents able to pay. So then you get your income divides again. While my kid’s school intends to ask parents to pay for full day kindergarten (so that it is offered at all), however, we don’t expect that enough families will be able to pay to have full day. So then you get a system where kids in more affluent neighborhoods or schools get specials and decent teachers and lower class sizes and etc… and those kids in less affluent neighborhoods don’t.

  • 9. tracy petruso  |  May 5, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    just confirmed with my daughter’s teacher at skinner west- next year’s classical program [two classes] will defintiely be full day [35 kids] but the neighborhood program is still up in the air whether that will be tuition based or not.

  • 10. Carm  |  May 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    If your school is mostly low income, then won’t you get enough discretionary funds to run full kindergarten? I know that some of the discretionary funds were cut, but not all.

  • 11. Taxpayer  |  May 5, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    I read somewhere that spending/pupil is around $11K. If you start charging parents for kindergarten, or soliciting donations for additional teachers or aides, how much does it really cost to educate one kid? At $11K, aren’t we already at the tuition for parochial schools? When does it approach Sacred Heart levels, or even higher?

  • 12. RL Julia  |  May 5, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Even though the school has a significant low income population there isn’t enough money to fund full day kindergarten. I think the discretionary money is used for specials.

  • 13. gmom  |  May 5, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    How is it that OAE schools may get full day but not the others?!?!!?!?!? That is just rotten, rotten, rotten.

  • 14. Options Kindergarten classes  |  May 5, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    To clarify on kindergarten for Options programs next year. Apparently it is funded for one full day spot at 35 kids but right now the OAE has only extended offers to 28 in the hopes that the class size will eventually be reduced. The way it was explained was that they can’t uninvite 7 children if that happens.

    There are so many possibilities of how this could play out . . .

  • 15. Carm  |  May 5, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    gmom: Kindergarten students at GEAP schools are doing the equivalent of first/second grade work, which is why they get full-day K. You don’t have half-day first grade…

  • 16. gmom  |  May 5, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    excuse me, but kindergarten – i do understand the GEAP program quite well and i understand it would be hard to do it in a half-day scenario – is kindergarten. Lets be real, a lot of kids would do great in those classes, but a select few get this and that, and the rest wither on the vine????

  • 17. cpsobsessed  |  May 5, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    @Carm, that is a good point about the 1st grade work. I was feeling guilty that GEAP schools would get full day, but that does make sense. In essense, they are skipping Kindergarten.
    Although truthfully, much of the day is used for specials anyhow. Sigh. It is all so crazy and it doesn’t help when people feel they’re getting the short end of the stick.

  • 18. Carm  |  May 5, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    cpsobsessed: There are always people who feel they are getting the short end of the stick–no matter how much they have.

  • 19. Hawthorne mom  |  May 5, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    taxpayer, actually cps only funds about $6500 per pupil.

  • 20. Taxpayer  |  May 5, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Hawthorne mom: This article states that spending in 2007 was about $11,300/CPS student. I assume that this figure takes into account both state and city sources of revenue. It might be less for elementary students, but the above figure is in the ballpark for total spending:

    http://cbs2chicago.com/local/school.boycott.barbs.2.807225.html

    Whether it’s from the city or the state, taxpayers foot the bill.

  • 21. momof4  |  May 5, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Thorp Academy is trying to save their full day KG but it may not be able to. If that is the case then gifted may start in 1st grade. But the school is not exempt for KG going half day.

  • 22. me  |  May 5, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Gifted, Classical and Magnet have always had full day kindergarten paid for. Magnet Clusters and neighborhood schools have never had it, they only received funding for 1/2 a position and made up for the other half out of other funds, asked for parent donations or just had 1/2 day kinders. And it should be equal across the whole city, no kid deserves full day anymore than the next no matter WHAT school they go to or what program they’re in. That is just not fair.

  • 23. gmom  |  May 5, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    momof4:talked to principal today. Full day k will not happen.

  • 24. cpsnewbie  |  May 5, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Technically I don’t think CPS has to offer any Kindergarten for any child because it is not required by the state of IL. A child does not legally have to begin school until they are 6 years old – 1st grade. But I understand the frustration – this is crazy!

  • 25. Hawthorne mom  |  May 5, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    thanks for the clarification on the funds….since that is the case, i have to wonder….where is all that money going?

  • 26. cpsobsessed  |  May 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    I remember reading that it took about $10K per CPS pupil right around the time we were applying to a private school that cost about that much, and I too wondered, why don’t we just send all the kids to private school?! Those class sizes are much smaller, too!
    It really seems insane, doesn’t it?

    But CPS has the teachers unions, the custodial unions, the big old buildings that need boilers replaced, lots of maintainence, the big salaries for the top people (and layers of administration.) I believe that private school teachers get paid pretty poorly and probably don’t have nearly the benefits that CPS teachers do. If CPS could get away with no unions and less giant real estate to manage, it would cost a lot less.

  • 27. dazed and confused  |  May 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    oops forgot my code name when i posted earlier on skinner west- and i have to agree it doesn’t seem fair to have options full day kinder and neighborhood not. but i will also say that skinner west doesn’t even have recess and they often times are skipping snack because they have run out of time. i volunteer there once a week for the entire day and it’s astounding how much they get through. i can’t imagine doing it in a half day or even the extended kindergarten. they have to get creative- like today they did fractions on pizza pies out on the sidewalk in sidewalk chalk to at least get them outside.
    now do they really need to learn that much? i remember being line leader and taking a nap as the highlight of my kindergarten year 🙂

  • 28. Carm  |  May 5, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    For those of you who crying “no fair,” take a look at a CPS school on the south or west side of the city. That is no fair. Students who don’t get books. Classrooms overflowing. Run down facilities with no fancy tech centers. Lousy test scores. That’s unfair.

    For those who think they are being left to wither on the vine, at least you will have company. Most of the wealthy suburban schools (Wilmette, Oak Park, etc.) do not have full-day K–even in good times.

    Every school (GEAP, magnet, neighborhood) has to make cuts. No one is being asked to do more or less. GEAP full-day K is a decision that each school makes. Our school is choosing to keep it–but that means we have to cut somewhere else.

    Half-day K is a pain for working families, that I understand. But more than that is not mandated by the state. GEAP schools get money that can be used for that–but on the other hand, they don’t get the discretionary funding or special ed funding that other schools do. And that special ed staff is often shifted around to do non-special ed duties.

    So I suggest that instead of crying about what you perceive someone else has that you don’t, you do something constructive. Like lobby your state rep. Or go to a rally. And be active on behalf of the district–because that is the only way things will really change. Lobby for a state mandate for full-day K–I am sure there are tons of parents in the suburbs who would support that effort too.

  • 29. SkinnerWestMom  |  May 5, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    @dazed and confused

    My son will be attending K next year at Skinner West with my daughter (who is currently in 1st grade). Thank goodness! But get ready for 1st grade. I know K was intense, but there is even more work in 1st. She just finished a science project for the science fair and now she has to create a board game for math from scratch with instructions, game board, and game pieces. This seems like a project for the 4th or 5th grade. And yes they definitely learn a lot, I can’t complain. My son’s picking up some info too like learning the state capitals right along with my daughter. Sometimes the words they use in their conversations amazes me.

    It’s definitely sad to hear that full day K will be cut in a lot of schools. They learn and absorb so much at this age.

  • 30. isabella  |  May 5, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    From a teachers point of view, I think many of you parents need to be realistic about what’s going on. Although some full day programs are being cut, the schools to which you are referring have fantastic teachers, supportive staff and parents who care. What is really the nightmare are the cuts that are happening to children, the same age as yours, in other schools where there is no fantastic staff nor parents who are dedicated. I hate to tell you this, but suburban schools who offer fulll day kinder. charge for this service. Private schools have the same option. And, let’s get real about bussing. Suburban districts charge for bussing. If you don’t want to go to your neighborhood school, then pay for transportation….regardless of where you come from.

    I think a HUGE mistake is to have parents start to pay for programs out of pocket. CPS will never pick up the tab again. Why would they if it’s already being funded?

  • 31. Hawthorne mom  |  May 5, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Carm and Isabella,
    I taught in a west side school and I totally know what you are talking about. While the cuts concern me for our school, I know my kids and all the kids in our school will be just fine. There may be some logistical inconveniences, but we will work through it. (though I worry about all the teachers and staff who are losing their jobs for years to come)
    At the school I taught at, honestly, I have been wanting to call my old principal to see how they will be affected, but I am afraid to hear! The losses there will decimate the learning process. Our classes were already too big, the building run down, the kids came in with soooo many deficits. (as in K students who didn’t know shapes or colors or any of their letters….stuff that most middle class 3 year olds know)
    I agree too, that parents who want bussing, need to pay for it. Though I’d be concerned about the parents who can’t pay. Not sure if some sort of sliding scale could be worked out or what. I need bus service and am totally willing to pay for it.

  • 32. cpsnewbie  |  May 5, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    #20
    Wow for $11,300 year I could put my child in the local Catholic school which has a limited enrichment program, recess every day and class size of 20, plus pay for guitar lessons, weekend classes at Northwestern’s gifted program, art classes and a couple of museum memberships as well. I could probably even have a little left over to put toward my ridiculously high property taxes which seem to be spent on…well, let me think here…ummmm – OK there must be something to show for all that money I give them! Maybe we should head to the loop, dig up all those pretty flowers they seem to be replanting in the medians every month, sell them at a fundraiser and use the money for “specials” or another teacher. 😉 Venting…

  • 33. Taxpayer  |  May 5, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Yeah, when I found out how much is spent on each kid, I figured that the politicians must be involved. In exchange for being allowed to live off the public largesse, the politicians get the votes and financial backing of the entire educational establishment. Of course, it’s the taxpayers who pay for it all in the end, both in terms of taxes and a suboptimal educational experience for their kids.
    What if all of us could get a voucher for $11,300/student to use for our kids’ education? How many private schools would spring up to meet the demand?

  • 34. RL Julia  |  May 6, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Carm, Isabella and Hawthorne Mom – I totally agree.

    There are crooked people everywhere – not just politicians. For instance, this year, a lot my federal tax dollars seemed to have gone to insure that a lot of Wall Street bankers get to keep their huge bonuses.

    As a person who attended both private and public schools, I can attest that no matter where you go to school and no matter how much it costs on a per student basis, it is not enough. The tuition costs at most private schools don’t cover the full costs of a student’s education (this is true for colleges as well) – even with the underpaid teachers. Private schools depend heavily on the largess of their alumni to replace boilers, maintain (and improve) the physical campus and the like. Same goes to the archdiocese and parochial schools.

    The problem is that no one wants to pay the full, true cost of education whether it is private or public (or really any public service for that matter, clean water and paved streets and safe bridges and food should just happen!).

    The suburbs are only moderately better because their taxes are generally higher (except in the newer ones where they have yet to need significant infrastructure maintenance requirements) .In many cases a more economically homogenous population which (depending on the suburb) means fewer kids coming in under-prepared.

  • 35. momof4  |  May 6, 2010 at 9:36 am

    gmom – what you say does not surprise me at all – but the head of gifted was told that our principal was downtown fighting for it just 2 days ago and she has 2.5 KG positions and needs to just get another .5 – trust me – we are all not believing this – just saying what the teachers have been told….hmm

  • 36. SkinnerDad  |  May 6, 2010 at 10:02 am

    SkinnerWestMom – Does ur kid got into Classical program or would he be in the neighborhood program? I don’t think my son will get into Classical as he got only 117. Also, do u know the diff between neighborhood and classical programs for K?

  • 37. dazed and confused  |  May 6, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    skinnerwest mom:
    fantastic getting both your kids at the same school! i hope when my little one starts we’ll be as lucky. i’m ok with the amount of work since she seems to have no trouble with it and finishes her homework in about 15 mins but i fear her surpassing me soon 🙂
    skinner dad:
    just wanted to put my two cents in- the classes do overlap and do alot of the same projects [they just finished doing a chocolate project that the neighborhood class and one of the two classical classes did- the other class did flowers. Today they are all at the Adler Planetarium for field trip. and they are all doing a unit on life cycle [using butterfly kits].

    feel free to email me with questions- tepetruso@msn.com
    full disclosure- my daughter is headed to decatur next year in large part due to skinner start time and distance from our home.

  • 38. Mayfair Dad  |  May 6, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    If I got a voucher for $10K per child, per school year I sure as hell wouldn’t send my children to CPS schools.

  • 39. Taxpayer  |  May 6, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Mayfair Dad: That was my next question! If there was no such thing as public school, would you pay nearly $12K to send your kid to the local branch of the educational megacorporation mysteriously named “CPS”? Hmmm, let’s see: 35 kids/class, no specials, no recess, etc.
    OK, to be fair, part of the cost is part and parcel of having schools and students with special needs, discipline problems, etc. But, wow, free education really isn’t free, is it?

  • 40. SkinnerWestMom  |  May 6, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Skinner Dad – My son got into the Classical program. I had to do a lot of praying. A huge weight was lifted off our shoulders when we got that OAE acceptance letter. Unfortunately I don’t know too much about the difference in the programs since this is only the first year, but from what dazed and confused has stated (that do a lot of the same projects), that’s really great! When my daughter was in Kindergarten she had to do a chocolate project too so it looks like the projects haven’t really changed. Did you register your son for the neighborhood program yet?

    Dazed and Confused – Sorry to see you go, but distance from home can make it really hard. I wish you the best at Decatur! Good Luck!

  • 41. twocents  |  May 6, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    At Edison LSC mtg it was discussed that there are several families who are about to lose their spots because they have been on the fence with deciding whether or not they will have thier child attend. All schools need to maintain size limits to ensure funding. This message is to let the eager hopefuls know that there ARE openings coming for you in round 3 (Mostly, but not all Kdg).

  • 42. obsessed2  |  May 6, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Mayfair Dad & Taxpayer: Name me one CP School that you would have to pay 10k per year. The voucher is public funds being used by the parent in order to send his/her child to a private school of his/her choice(private, Catholic, whatever), and still feel like you’re getting your child the right to a “free and public education. ” It’s all kinda BS though, because, say I wanted to send my child to St. Ignatius? Is the government gonna pay the remaining balance if the tuition is above 10k? So you’re still gonna end up coming out of your pocket. But at least you have another choice besides your neighborhood school. Personally, in my opinion, I assume that the Daley Machine is eventually moving towards privatizing all CP schools with the notion of———Hey, you want your child to get an education, then you’re just gonna have to pay for it!

  • 43. 2ndtimearound  |  May 6, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Hi All,

    For those of you in schools where you have heard what kinds of cuts will be made, have you also heard from the administration what types of solutions they are looking at/coming up with to try and make the best of the situation for next year. I think it would be great to learn about how some schools are trying to think outside the box and make the best of a bad situation. Maybe other schools would benefit from some creative thinking too!

  • 44. copy editor  |  May 6, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    One thing to keep in mind about the private schools: the tuition is only one source of funds. Most of them have big-time fundraisers and mandatory fundraising requirements that mean that they have more than, say, $11,300 per student to work with. They have endowments to draw from, and they may have people who contribute just because they want to give money (the case with many of the Catholic schools.) Private schools aren’t doing more with less, they are, in most cases, doing more with more.

    And the “more” is often the mandatory parental contribution over and above the tuition.

  • 45. SkinnerDad  |  May 6, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    dazed and confused/SkinnerWestMom
    Thanks very much for your responses. So, looks like there aren’t too many differences between the programs. I haven’t yet registered for the neighborhood program. I called them today and wanted to check if we register my kid to the neighborhood program, would he be ineligible for the classical program in the future rounds. The person who answered didn’t know and she said she will get back to me. Also, I heard that neighborhood program is only from K-1st grade???Is that right? I’ve also applied to the Jackson Andrew Magnet school. Haven’t heard anything from them yet 😦

  • 46. SkinnerWestMom  |  May 6, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    SkinnerDad – You are right, the neighborhood program next year will only be K and 1st (this year is K only). Skinner has always been a Classical (test in) school. This school year, when they split the two Skinners up (North and West), they added the neighborhood program to West. They will add one grade each year until they reach 8th. I would call to check on Andrew Jackson because we got a rejection letter a month or so ago.

  • 47. dazed and confused  |  May 6, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    skinnerdad.
    it’s my understanding that you can walk up the day before school and register your child if you are in the boundaries and they are required to take you so i wouldn’t run in there to register just yet. most schools do have an early registration and encourage that so they get a fix on the numbers of kids they are expecting. Yes the neighborhood is only K this year and each year one grade will be added. This was not the original intent so there is a concern about space in the future. I will say that I like having a neighborhood program in the school. My geographic school is Bell and it has both options and neighborhood. What that does is gets the neighborhood invested in the school. They have HUGE fundraisers that provide opportunities for all the extras. I hope this happens for Skinner.

  • 48. Taxpayer  |  May 6, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    @obsessed2: On average, every CPS school charges about $11K/student. It’s just not out of your pocket in the form of a tuition payment–it’s out of the taxpayers’ pockets, which was my point all along.
    Private school tuition typically takes care of about 80% of the cost/child. True, private schools are aggressive about fundraising . . . but so are public schools (which was a surprise to me, because, like you, I used to think that public schools were free).

  • 49. JD  |  May 6, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    @41 two cents – did you mean Round 2? Are they holding spots for those that are on the fence at Edison? Shouldn’t they have turned in their forms by the deadline? If they didn’t they should have lost their spot by default. Anything else come out of the LSC meeting? The prinicpal had asked for voluntary donations to save a 1/2 teacher.

  • 50. SkinnerDad  |  May 6, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    dazed and confused/SkinnerWestMom
    Thanks for your responses.
    I will call Jackson Andrew tomm and will check. Not sure what’s going on. Since it is a Magnet school, I believe it is going to be better than Skinner West’s neighborhood program. Let me know if you think otherwise.
    I am still waiting to hear back from Skinner on if we can delay the registration for neighborhood. I really want to wait until we run out of options..Also, I believe that the 2nd half of the day at Skinner is going to be tution based. Not sure how much though. Hope they don’t cut short on the extras due to lack of funds.

  • 51. SEN  |  May 7, 2010 at 9:34 am

    The lady who cuts my hair lives in Morton Grove. She pays $300 a year for the bus. If they cut the bus, it will make it very,very difficult for working parents. In regards to paying, they could ask for W-2 forms to verify income. So if you make less than some amount they choose, you would not have to pay, or they could use a sliding scale. Just a thought.

  • 52. cpsobsessed  |  May 7, 2010 at 9:50 am

    @SEN, that is a good point. It’s crazy to make it “all or nothing” with things like bussing and after-school program when there are people perfectly willing to pay for them!
    I guess the same even applies to full day Kinder. It is certainly not standard in the suburbs (although when they have classes of 20-22 kids, I’m thinking it’s a lot easier for kids to catch up in 1st grade.)
    I met a woman in Lake Forest once and the full day Kinder there costs something like $8K a year. It’s just a take it or leave it. And I’m sure that is on top of already super-high property taxes.

  • 53. Also New at This  |  May 7, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Hi second time around:
    At our LSC meeting this week for neighborhood magnet cluster school on Northwest Side, they cut a .5 music position, a .5 esl position to “buy” another teacher at the primary level and so reduce class size in the 1st grade classes. Those classes were hovering around 34 each with projected enrollment. That was through the discretionary budget.

    There are 5-6 other positions that are going to be cut by mandate of CPS though even with those the principal is scrambling to get around having to cut all of them. Very tough decisions, but I thought the end result was sound, and very well thought out.

    Kindergarten is half time next year. I and other parents are going to have to scramble to make up the difference b/c it doesn’t look like there will be a tuition option. Any creative ideas for that are appreciated.

  • 54. klem  |  May 7, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Re: vouchers. The current bill in the state legislature will give a voucher for $3,300. Supposedly that is the average for Chicago Catholic schools. Not even close to $11K.

    Re: budget woes: At Skinner N, parents have been asked to make a donation of $600 to keep class size low and to keep our specials. It’s a donation so entirely voluntary. Our teachers also agreed to make some concessions regarding # of hours worked.

  • 55. Hawthorne mom  |  May 7, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    klem,
    Can you explain further about your school’s teachers making concessions regarding hours? Did they agree to work with less prep time?

  • 56. klem  |  May 7, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    I believe they agreed to work five hours a week without pay. I think that is five extra hours a week–on top of what they were doing, but not positive. I am not sure how that five hours will be used.

  • 57. hom  |  May 9, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Everyone is taking of HALF days & Full days – how long are half days? How long are full days? Anyonw know what is happening with Beaubien Kindergarten?

    /

  • 58. Hawthorne mom  |  May 9, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Well, the CPS school day is generally not quite 6 hours, so if K is half day, I would guess that it lasts 2.5-2.75 hours. That’s less time than my son spends in PreK.

    I am very concerned about the Skinner teachers agreeing to work more without pay. I can only guess that they are giving up their contractual rights to 3-4 guaranteed prep times a week. I would be very worried about teacher burn out and the lack of opportunity to collaborate with grade level colleagues. Not to mention that for every additional hour a teacher spends in front of students, they must plan on 2 hours of work outside of class time. Hopefully the union will step in and work something out that is mutually beneficial to both teachers and families.

  • 59. klem  |  May 9, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    @Hawthorne Mom: Thanks for your concerns, but they really are quite unfounded. The teachers will sign a waiver–that’s not uncommon. When families are individually contributing hundreds of dollars to the school, this a supportive move from the faculty–though no one has ever questioned their dedication. The teachers are not worried about burn out or lack of collaboration–these are all experienced staff members. And hopefully we won’t have to do it for more than a year.

  • 60. gmom  |  May 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    @carm – voicing the unfairness of the full day kindergarten thingfa is “crying?” Wow.

    BTW, I mainly AM talking about kids on the west and south sides. i can place my kid elsewhere and I feel way worse for parents other than myself. My kid was a maybe private kid anyway. Why not start GEAP in 1st grade???????

  • 61. carm  |  May 9, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    @gmom: Sorry I must have missed that outpouring of concern for others in your post. As I posted before the GEAPs that are sticking full-day K will have to cut elsewhere. No one is immune to these budget cuts so you don’t have to worry about some kids getting more than others.

  • 62. Hawthorne mom  |  May 9, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Klem,
    I am a teacher and this strikes a nerve with me. I think I am just kind of tired of seeing teachers sacrifice so very, very much for other people’s children,very often at the expense of their own. You are very, very lucky to have a group of teachers willing to do this and to give up their time with their families for your children without pay. I am sure your PTA will be looking for ways to express your appreciation. I am also sure you don’t mean that the teachers “should” be doing this simply because parents give a few hundred dollars a year to their child’s education. That’s how that came across, but I am guessing that is not what you meant.

  • 63. isabella  |  May 9, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Klem and Hawthorne Mom,
    I can’t imagine teachers not getting burned out after volunteering to teach additional classes or more students. However, I think that these teachers, although having the best of intentions, need to rethink what they are doing in terms of the union and their fellow teachers. There is a reason we have scheduled preps and maximum class sizes. I find it annoying that parents would even feel like they could ask teachers to adjust their hours worked or to make concessions. I would not ask my painter or plumber or lawyer to work an addtional 5-6 hours per week with no pay. How is it that people feel they can ask teachers?

  • 64. Hawthorne mom  |  May 9, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Isabella,
    Thank You! I wrote and rewrote my response about a dozen times and basically said what you said and then decided against it. You said what I wanted to say without being rude.
    Experienced teachers DO get burned out, quite often actually! I was just telling my husband that I would be ashamed to ask our sitters or our doctors to work more without pay just because we couldn’t afford it.
    Again, thank you! I feel very validated right now!

  • 65. Donna  |  May 10, 2010 at 7:47 am

    I find this entire thread fascinating. I am a CPS teacher who, thankfully, resides in the suburbs. Klem, I don’t think you have any idea how many hours teachers put in above and beyond their typical work week. The 5 hours that those teachers are going to work without pay amounts to probably triple what CPS does not want to pay in the 4% annual increase. Five hours of extra time with students could amount to another 10 in grading papers and/or planning. Isabella, I am with you too…I would LOVE to ask parents to work these additional hours and see what their reactions would be. : ) Energies need to be redirected to finding out where all of the money is going. What are the private contracts and other line items that account for millions and millions of your childrens’ educational budget going? CPS has refused to disclose names of private contracts. Contact Lisa Madigan’s office and demand that CPS release this information. The money exists, but it is not going to the children.

  • 66. gmom  |  May 10, 2010 at 9:09 am

    @carm. Let’s be careful about assuming things about other people who you don’t know.

  • 67. LR  |  May 10, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Wanted to leave a comment about private school tuition. Where we go currently, Saint Matthias, I think the actual cost of educating a child there is just under $9,000/year. Tuition is around $5K. We make up the gap with fundraisers and lots of other stuff, but $9K is the actual cost. $11K tuition alone sounds really high compared to most Catholic schools on the north side. Most are in the $5K-$7K tuition range per year (excluding places like Sacred Heart, which is more exclusive than most). Too expensive for us to continue, but well worth the cost of not being at the whim of CPS if you have the money.

    Also, to clarify the law in Illinois: public schools have to provide a Kindergarten (half or full day), but kids do not have to attend school until age 7 (which seems crazy to me). Lawmakers have been trying to lower the compulsory age of education for years and it always gets turned down, because Illinois does not want to shoulder the burden of being required to provide education for those extra couple years.

  • 68. Sallie  |  May 24, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    According to the principal, assistant principal and lead literacy teacher of an elementary school with a demographic that consists of a 99.9% African American or Black student population, grammar and spelling cannot be taught in isolation by teachers of Area 16, CPS, or the state of Illinois. I would like to know if this is true, and if so why not?

  • 69. J  |  June 23, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Latin’s annual tuition ranges from $15,000-$20,000
    Parker’s is $16,000-$21,000.
    British School of Chicago annual tuition of $16,000-$18,000

    http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/clout_st/2010/05/llinois-lawmakers-mull-school-vouchers-for-chicago-public-schools.html

    Parents might not be able to pay the balance if the $3,700 does not cover a tab that also could include the cost of getting to and from the new school. Tuition varies widely among private and parochial schools in the city — from about $2,000 to nearly $30,000 a year. The average tuition and fees for elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago is about $3,300 a year, a spokesman said. The most expensive private schools often give financial assistance to disadvantaged students, which makes it difficult to know what the actual cost is for parents

    Test score data show African Americans have benefited from voucher programs while whites and Latinos have not, said William Howell, a professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago and an expert on vouchers.

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