Boosted by Federal COVID Relief Funds, Chicago Public Schools Unveil $9.5 Billion Budget Proposal | Chicago News


Chicago Public School students walk along a hallway in this file photo. (WTTW News)

Chicago Public Schools officials unveiled a proposed $9.5 billion budget for the coming fiscal year, which includes more than $700 million in federal COVID-19 relief dollars to help fund programs to early childhood education, teaching positions and grants for underutilized schools.

The new proposal, which is the first under current CPS CEO Pedro Martinez, will increase school-level funding to $4.6 billion – a jump of more than $240 million from the current budget. – and will add more than 1,600 new full-time positions across the city in fiscal year 2023.

“These investments will lay the foundation for what CPS students can expect in classrooms, from keeping class sizes manageable to increasing the number of staff working to harness the full potential of our bright children. and talented,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “With this budget, our unstoppable students will be ready to compete and collaborate in their communities, with their schools, and beyond.”

These new positions include 524 teaching positions, 745 school support staff, such as classroom paraprofessionals, case managers, security guards and 155 other student support staff.

While the CPS has touted an overall increase in its school-level funding, parents, community leaders and some city officials have criticized budget cuts at schools that have seen declining enrollment, calling on the district to do more to ensure that students receive education and support. they need.

Many have also criticized the district’s continued reliance on student-based budgeting, which allocates funds to individual schools based on their enrollment numbers. Earlier this spring, CPS officials said they had moved to a hybrid funding formula, less than half of which is calculated through student-based budgeting.

The Chicago teachers’ union took aim at Lightfoot, saying the mayor is “launching his re-election bid by balancing the city’s budget on the backs of kids who need more instead of less.”

“Chicago Public Schools students and families have endured two years of trauma from the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the trauma many of them are experiencing from gun violence, discrimination, fines and regressive fees and neglect of their communities,” the union said. said in a statement. “They’re tired of ‘hard’. What they need is a recovery, with compassionate and capable leadership leading that recovery – no cuts to their schools and classrooms.

The CPS plans to provide $50 million in equity grants — an increase of $14 million — to help fund 238 under-enrolled schools, along with an additional $5 million to help “provide stability and limit cutbacks.” budgets” in schools experiencing more severe declines in enrolment. .

District officials also said no schools will take additional cuts if they fail to meet enrollment projections after the 20th day of next school year, while those that exceed their projections could see additional funding.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government began distributing money to school districts to help support students and their families across the country through the Elementary Schools Emergency Relief Fund. and secondary (ESSER).

CPS said it has allocated about 45% of the $2.8 billion it has received through this fund over the past three fiscal years and will spend an additional $730 million in the latest budget. This includes: $100 million for early childhood programs beyond what is funded by state grants; $45 million for pedagogical support and professional learning in schools; and $96 million for school-based operational positions.

The district also uses ESSER dollars to fund mental health supports and trauma-informed interventions ($13 million), student re-engagement and truancy prevention programs ($12 million), and early literacy ($5 million) among many other expenses.

“We are grateful for these additional and much-needed federal funds,” Martinez said in a statement. “We are investing these funds strategically, establishing a new foundation for success to ensure schools have the resources and capacity to move every student forward.

Beginning next week, the CPS will hold a pair of public budget hearings at its downtown headquarters, 42 W. Madison St. Those hearings will be held from 4-5:30 p.m. Monday and 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Chicago Board of Education is due to vote on the budget proposal at the June 22 monthly meeting.

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson | [email protected] | (773) 509-5431


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