Posts filed under ‘Budget’

Update on the Budget Cuts – Eric Zorn speaks out

Well, at least it's sunny there...

Well, at least it’s sunny there…

This is long post because there’s a CPS info sheet at the end.  I think we’ve discussed many of these points, but it’s interesting to see how the budget issue is heating up in the media.

Raise You Hand’s Facebook page is tracking the individual schools’ budget cuts and posting about protests, etc if you want to follow them here:

Today, Eric Zorn, from the Tribune (who has 2 kids in CPS) wrote a column openly criticizing CPS for now sharing the school budgets and/or revealing the extent of the budget cuts.

His full column is here:

He finds it perturbing that CPS cannot make the budget information more transparent and alludes to what people may experience as being “jerked around” (my words, not his… but what he’s implying.)

From his column:

“And in some cases illusory. In our conversation later Tuesday, Carroll said, “By the time this process is over, the overall impact on classroom learning will be very minimal,” though she also noted that “there will be winners and losers” among the schools.

She said it would require too much staff time to post a complete, regularly updated list of those winners and losers given how often the internal numbers change.

Nonsense. The way they’re doing it now, keeping parents guessing and wondering if it’s time, at last, to move to the suburbs? Putting teachers and support personnel into professional limbo while moving money from column to column?

It’s crazy.   “


Also going on, a few schools are voting to reject their school’s budget.  From Audobon’s LSC:

“Audubon’s LSC is one of several councils across the city who have also rejected their 2013-2013 budget, including Blaine, Kellogg, and Edgebrook.

After a careful examination and review of the CPS budget our decision was made with thoughtful consideration of what could be done with private funding. However, we have concluded that it is in the best interest of our students, staff, parents and community to reject this budget completely.”


Simultaneously, I got this fact sheet from CPS this morning.  I think we’ve seen many of these point made already, although I did notice that this mentions that LSCs cannot reject their budget, that the principal must come to an agreement with the LSC.

School-Based Budgeting Provides a Fair and Equitable Process to Fund All Schools

• Student Based Budgeting (SBB) represents 50% of every school’s budget and includes funding for all core education programming (such as the Full School Day or Full Day Kindergarten) and classroom positions. Funding is based on the number of students in each school. All schools are provided a per-pupil rate for every student based on their grade level and whether they are a high school or elementary school student. Most major Districts either use SBB or are moving to SBB as it provides a fair and equitable means to fund all their schools – no two schools are treated differently under SBB.

• SBB will give principals unprecedented control over how to spend core education dollars, allowing them to create their own education budgets and staffing plans in a way they believe will best meet the academic needs of their students.

• The remaining 50% of a school’s budget is made up of Supplemental General State Aid (SGSA), Title I programs, English Language Learners (ELL), Magnet, International Baccalaureate, Bilingual, and STEM programs. It also consists of operations funding outside the classroom, including money for transportation, security and nutrition services. These funds are completely separate from SBB.

• All school-based budgets are currently draft and are not yet final. Some schools will see increases this year, while others will see decreases, which will be driven by enrollment, poverty levels, students with special needs, the District’s budget crisis and other several other factors.

• CPS is poised to use one-time funding available in our reserves, reductions in Central Office directed spending, and other sources to close the $1 billion deficit in order to keep cuts as far away from the classroom as possible. However, we will not be able to avoid reductions.

Additional $400 Million Pension Payment Driving CPS Deficit

• CPS faces a historic $1 billion in FY14, which is being driven by a new $400 million pension payment. During this past legislative session in Springfield, CPS worked tirelessly to pass meaningful pension reform which would save the district hundreds of millions of dollars in this upcoming fiscal year and give us the funding needed to prevent impacts on our schools.

• However, when session ended on May 31st, the legislature in Springfield adjourned without an agreement on how to address our pension crisis. Our leaders in Springfield have pledged to work throughout this summer to address the state’s own pension crisis and Mayor Emanuel, the Board of Education and CEO Byrd-Bennett will continue to seek similar pension relief for CPS.

• In the absence of pension reform, CPS CEO Byrd-Bennett has directed her financial team to continue to identify additional cost saving opportunities throughout the system in order to restore as many classroom dollars as possible.

CPS Has Eliminated Hundreds of Millions in Central Office Directed Spending To Address Deficits

• CPS has cut Central Office spending by nearly $600 million since 2011, and is eliminating another $52 million next fiscal year to keep cuts as far away from the classroom as possible. CPS will continue to do everything possible to minimize the impact on schools to reduce the historic $1 billion deficit facing the District next fiscal year. However, some impact on the classroom cannot be avoided altogether.

Multiple Factors Impact School Funding

• A school’s budget is driven by many factors, such as drops or increases in enrollment, the number of students at the poverty level, the number of students with special needs and others. These are factors that occur every single year and can significantly impact how much funding a school may receive.

• A school may also see a reduction in their budget that doesn’t necessarily mean the service or program has been eliminated, as some programs and positions may be moved from schools to the Central Office. This change will be reflected as a reduction in a school’s budget, but those dollars have simply been shifted to Central Office; however those services or positions may remain in place. For example, in FY14 engineering positions are being moved to Central Office in order to create a more efficient system that will save the District money, but schools will still receive all the engineering support they need. Those positions and the money to support them will no longer be in school budgets, but the services will remain intact at each school.

STEM and IB Program Funding Remains Intact

• Claims that STEM and IB funding have been cut are false.

The Illinois School Code Process To Deal With LSC Failure to Reach Agreement On Budgets

According the Illinois School Code, there is a process in place when a LSC fails to reach an agreement on a schools

• LSCs do not have the authority to reject CPS’ funding allocation to schools under Illinois state code.

• According the Illinois School Code, there is a process in place when a LSC fails to reach an agreement on a schools budget:

o Principals are obligated to work with the LSC to seek agreement

o Lack of approval will result in intervention from CEO, who appoints a financial advisor to assist the LSC

and principal in reaching agreement

o Continued failure results in CEO appointment of “financial supervision team” to create a budget based on district’s funding allocation.

Nearly $1 Billion in TIF Money Has Helped Build and Renovate Schools Across The City

• The use of TIF dollars to fund schools projects has enabled CPS to reduce the amount of debt it has had to issue and the use of operating dollars that would have been used to pay down that debt. These resources can be used to fund CPS operating costs while still allowing capital projects to move forward. More than $900 million in TIF dollars have been committed to CPS school construction.

• Eliminating TIFs would not generate substantial new revenue for CPS as property tax caps on CPS severely limits its ability to tax new property tax revenue.

Interest Rate Swaps Saves Money For CPS – $70M To Date:

• Interest swaps, which are competitively bid, have allowed CPS to reduce its interest costs on debt by approximately $70 million. CPS works with banks to reduce the rates it pays on money it has borrowed, similar to how a homeowner who refinances a mortgage to a lower interest rate will save money on a mortgage payment.  Renegotiating swaps would signal that CPS can’t pay its debt and would cost the District more money in the long-term.


July 3, 2013 at 8:18 pm 55 comments

The 2013 Budget: The Good, The Bad, and the Fugly

Ok, time to finally write about the 2013 CPS Budget.  The title of the news from CPS is:

CPS FY 13 Budget Protects Investments in Student Achievement

The “investment” element is the positive spin put upon declining revenue and increasing spending.

The GOOD news is that CPS has chosen to invest in early education (preK and full-day K for many kids) as an investment that will hopefully keep paying off as these kids progress.  Other investments include more SE sears, more IB seats, more STEM seats, and more charter schools (hopefully not crappy ones.)  There is also more effort to give schools more spending autonomy.

The BAD news is that make this happen, CPS has had to make some cuts (admin, programs, bussing, etc) but the big “news” is that they’re empyting their reserves to keep some of the good stuff (like our fabulous class size of n=28ish.)   This is similar to going to a “living paycheck to paycheck” mentality versus a “rainy day cushion” mentality.  On the one hand it makes sense because if we’ve got the money, we may as well spend it.

BUT, the FUGLY part is that there are several reasons to assume that revenues for CPS will stay steady (or even decline given the current economy) and that costs will keep growing (based in large part, due to pension obligation.)  So while we can cover the good stuff this year, it’s going to keep getting harder and harder to make it happen without a massive change in that pension/labor costs or more serious cutting of programs.  Or a money machine.  Or something that is similar to keeping the post office in business. Not sure how that happens.

My understanding is that we’re the only school district in the state who pays their own pension.  That the state budget covers the rest (but we get more state aid due to the poverty level.)  Anyone know anything about this?

It seem to me that allowing for an increase in the property tax level to support the schools would be a good idea, but I’m not sure how that would come about.  If only we could hire Stand for Children to do some sneaky maneuvering to work it out “behind the scenes.”  Seriously, that seems like the only way.

So what do you think?  Is it as bad as they say? (I have a friend who’s worked with the finance office and wrote to me this week “ho-ly shit… I had NO idea how bad things were financially there.”  Unfortunately I trust his judgement.)  The CTU seems to feel it’s all a lot of BS.  It may be partly BS (or PR) but I don’t think we can deny the fight of The Economy vs. The Pensions.  Simply stated, the equation doesn’t work.  FYI, that 2013 budget assumes only a 2% teacher raise and well…. that is an equation that is also hard to work out with a longer day request.

Here is the link to the Budget info which I will (maybe) try to slog through this week.

July 15, 2012 at 4:39 pm 544 comments

The Budgets Are Coming, The Budgets Are Coming

A reader suggested we talk about the school budgets that will be coming out soon.  I am never very knowledgeable on this topic, so feel free to add whatever you know.

Each school gets a budget of discretionary funds that are used to pay for “extra” things that the board doesn’t cover.   This CAN (and usually does) cover some teaching positions because the formula through which positions are assigned is sort of crazy.  Position assignments work best in a school where the grades are all evenly balanced and the number of kids per grade splits nicely into an even number of classes.  In schools that have a lot of kids in the lower grades and very few in the higher grades, and some grades with an oddly high number of kids, it gets out of whack.  I believe the number of teachers assigned is basesd on the school enrollment total, so it just doesn’t always fall out evenly, leaving the need for a couple extra teachers here and there.

The money that many schools get is very very dismally small.  As we all know, the challenge for 2012/13 is about how to cover this extra time in the school day, when the teachers’ time is pretty restricted in terms of supervising recess, etc.

There is talk that there will be some extra money to help schools cover the time, but it’s still unclear how much and where it’ll come from given that CPS has a budget shortfall.   Brizard has talked about PRIORITIZING for months now and I guess this is where we’ll see how it shakes out.  We know that the IB coordinators will be cut.   Someone wrote to tell me that the program called Freshman Connection (is that just for SE high schools or all high schools) that gives freshman a few weeks to get acclimated to their new (bigger) school is also being cut.  I’m sure there will be other cuts as well.

In regards to covering the extra school day time, I wanted to report back on the interviews I did with the principals from Fiske and Disney II.   I’ve mention this before, but I was really blown away by both women.  The longer day made total sense the way they talked about it.  They have vey high standards for their schools and have a LOT they want to teach the kids.  Of course I asked about the coverage of recess, etc.  They both handle it “creatively” within their school/community.  Neither school is using their pioneer money to make it work.

Fiske uses and outside volunteer organization that the principal has forged a relationship with to bring people into the school to help.  I asked whether it was difficult to get people to show up, schedule them etc.  I was told that the organization (via outside funding or grants or something) actually provides a stipend to some of the volunteers.  So that is a pretty awesome setup.

At Disney II, the principal mentioned that they (*updated to reflect input from DII that the use security and classroom assistants for supervision times.)

Both women felt that each school needed to use their particular resources to find a way to make it work, and they didn’t consider it a major obstacle. (just paraphrasing here.)

Each year the big funding questions in the elementary schools tend to be about : Free Pre-K, Full day kindergarten, specials (gym, library tech, etc.)   I’d imagine these may still be uncertain this year?

Feel free to share any thoughts/info/speculation on the budgets…..

*See comment #39 for input from CPS.  Also below is a link to Brizard’s recent webcast where he answers questions in response to parents’ video questions:

May 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm 485 comments

CPS Budget Hearings Open to the Public

Thanks to a reader for sharing this information.  I believe this is the same type of forum as the admission policy forums where you need to get therer and register before it starts and you will get a chance to state your opinion.
If anyone feels like they have a firm grasp of the budget stuff, please share.  As I was discussing with a friend last week, it all feels a bit like fake money to me and politics as usual.  I fully grasp that there is a budget crisis and that CPS appears forced to jump through hoops to get the money.  But I don’t get where the state keeps “finding” money.  It worries me…

Dear NoTo37 Supporters:

All next week, the Chicago Public Schools will be holding public hearings on the budget for the upcoming school year. This is another chance for your voice to be heard.

The public outcry you and thousands of other concerned citizens generated last spring succeeded in restoring critical funding. Thanks to you, there will not be 37 children in each classroom. However, budget cuts will still mean increasing high school class sizes and cuts to programs across the system.

Attending one of the hearings is a good way to learn more about the budget and keep pressure on our leaders to minimize cuts to important programs.

August 17 Community Hearing for Proposed 2011 CPS Budget
Lane Tech High School
2501 W. Addison St.
Registration begins at 6:00 p.m.
Hearing begins at 7:00 p.m.

August 18 Community Hearing for Proposed 2011 CPS Budget
Westinghouse High School
3223 W Franklin Blvd
Registration begins at 6:00 p.m.
Hearing begins at 7:00 p.m.

August 19 Community Hearing for Proposed 2011 CPS Budget
Corliss High School
821 E. 103rd St.
Registration begins at 6pm
Hearing begins at 7pm

August 17, 2010 at 10:57 am 1 comment

Found some money… so what does this mean?

CPS says it won’t lay off elementary teachers

June 28, 2010 11:55 AM | No Comments

After months of hand-wringing over what began as an estimated billion dollar deficit, Chicago Public Schools announced this morning that it will not lay off elementary school teachers and will restore full day kindergarten.

Last-minute changes to state funding were not enough to take all teacher layoffs off the table, however, and schools chief Ron Huberman said high school class sizes could still go up to 33 students from about 31 now.

The district took the opportunity to hammer the teachers union, calling on it and other union workers at the school district to take concessions to their contractually mandated raises.***

OK, so they’re not firing a TON of teachers, but some may still get axed (I assume some would in any standard year?  And restoring full day K?  Where?  I thought CPS didn’t actually pay for full day? 
I guess it’s good, but as usual, still so vague…..   Let me know if you hear anything.

June 28, 2010 at 1:10 pm 30 comments

Whose credit card is education funding going on?

Cause I sure would like those frequent flyer miles…

One of my spies tells me (spies meaning people who actually read the newspaper instead of just reading CakeWreck and AwkwardFamilyPhotos online like I do) that the state has decided to borrow money to address Illinois’ budget issues for now and they’ll figure things out next year. 

Why do I feel like the entire state is going to have a big FORECLOSURE sign on it at some point?

Not sure what this means, but I think we’re safe from classes of 35-37 kids. For now.  

Nuts.  Who is running the place?

May 26, 2010 at 11:23 am 12 comments

Eek. The budgets.

So schools should be or are starting to hear about their budgets for 2010/2011.  It seems like some schools are reporting few significant cuts while others seem to be harder hit.

Pre-School-For all appears to be saved at all schools (?) which seems a bit weird to me.  If CPS truly believe in the Tier system as an accurate judge of socio-economic level, why would any Tier 4 (or even Tier 3)-heavy school get free preK?  Maybe I’m just bitter because I shelled out $8K-freakin’-dollars for pre-school.  🙂

The most likely cut will be that schools will get funding for fewer teachers.  Although CPS has been publicizing the 35 per class number, the trouble is that things don’t always fall nicely into grades like that, meaning that staffing is going to be a nightmare.

Consider a typical neighborhood school that is running at almost full capacity.  They get a good number of local kids and pull in some out-of-district kids to make their class sizes line up.  So maybe they have 2 classes of about 28 kids in each grade (this isn’t necessarily common since many schools are more sparse in they upper grades, doing split grade classes.)  They get 1 teacher per class and it all works out.  For 8 grades, they get 16 teachers.  So they have 464 kids (28 in 1-4, 30 in 5-8.)  If the new formula gives them 1 teacher per 35 kids, they now get 13.26 teachers.  13?  So how on earth do they shift those kids?!  They need to make 16 classes into 13 classes.   It just screws things up.   Do they take in extra kids to fill the classes?  It’s not even that easy since CPS bases your teacher assignment on last year’s enrollment and THEIR projection’s (not the schools own projections.)  A school would need to get all the new kids actively enrolled before getting any new positions. 

I suppose it COULD be a chance for people who say they’re in crappy neighborhoods to get into some of the “good” neighborhood schools, but who knows if it’ll work that way.

This should be interesting, people.  Post any news from your school here.

May 3, 2010 at 10:54 am 23 comments

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