Chicago Public Schools Fiscal Year 2017 Budget

How to use this site

Users will be able to find documents and use interactive tools to help them better understand the proposed CPS budget for fiscal year 2016. The interactive features allow users to easily click through the budget, drilling into specific budget line details or staying at a high level overview of the District.

Users can view a number of areas of the budget including revenue and debt while also looking at every CPS school and department. Each interactive report generates graphs and charts which will make budget comparisons visual and easier to understand.

Check out our Reader's Guide for more information.

Download your own copy of the FY17 Budget Book.

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CPS received the GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for our FY2016 online budget site.

Organization Chart

Fund Balance Statement

Maintaining a baseline level of fund balance, or financial reserve, enhances financial stability for any individual or organization. Just as individuals keep a balance in their checking accounts in case of emergencies, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) seeks to maintain a baseline amount of funds within its operating account to ensure smooth day-to-day operations. Additionally, financial reserves provide a cushion for year-to-year fluctuations in financial performance.  Just like individuals experiencing financial challenges cannot maintain a checking account balance, CPS’s financial challenges have meant that we, too, are unable to maintain a fund balance.

CPS adopted its Fund Balance and Budget Management policy1 in August 2008. The goals of this policy are to maintain adequate fund balances in the various funds to provide sufficient cash flow for daily financial needs, to offset significant economic downturns or revenue shortfalls, to provide funds for unforeseen expenditures related to emergencies, and to secure and maintain strong credit ratings. The definition of fund balances in this context is assets in excess of liabilities that can be spent in times of need. To achieve these goals, the Board established the stabilization fund, an assigned fund balance (under Governmental Accounting Standard Board Statement No. 54) within the Operating Fund. The stabilization fund target baseline is a minimum of 5 percent of the operating and debt-service budgets.

While CPS acknowledges the importance of maintaining a minimum level of fund balance, it must balance this with advancing its core mission of ensuring that every child graduates college- and career-ready, even in the face of declining state revenues and statutorily-required increasing pension payments. Accordingly, in FY17 CPS will not maintain the stabilization fund balance at the target levels. 


Use of Fund Balance

In FY15, CPS changed its revenue recognition policy from 30 days to 60 days to reduce volatility at the end of the fiscal year, align with other government entities and better match revenue timing with expenditures. With the new policy, CPS had an additional $648 million available in fund balance at the beginning of FY15.  Most of this was used to close the FY15 budget gap, leaving $181.2 million in unrestricted fund balance to start FY16.

With $480 million in unrealized FY16 revenue, central office and schools worked together to achieve efficiencies and reduce spending while focusing on revenue collection. Even with the management efficiencies, midyear layoffs and furloughs successfully covering $225 million of the $480 million FY16 budget gap, the revenue shortfall in FY16 will leave the District with a negative general fund balance to start FY17. We are, however, anticipating ending FY16 with $32.9 million in Workers' Compensation/Tort Fund balance, which we will draw down to cover expenses within that fund, ending FY17 at approximately $20.7 million. However, this is well short of the target for this fund.


Table 1: Estimated Use of Fund Balance (in millions)

Fund Balance by Type

FY15 Actual Balance

FY16 Estimated Use

FY16 Estimated End of Year Balance

FY17 Budgeted Use

FY17 End of Year Balance

General Fund-for Appropriation






General Fund-for Stabilization






Workers’ Comp/Tort Fund (adjusted for revenue recognition)






Supp’l General State Aid (SGSA)2






Other Special Revenue Funds






Not Available for Appropriation3






Total Operating Fund






Debt Service Stabilization Fund







Fund Balance Targets

The fund balance targets established in the policy address the General Fund, Workers’ Compensation/Tort Fund, Supplemental General State Aid (SGSA) Fund, Debt Service funds, and Capital Projects funds. For the General Fund, the fund balance target is set between 5 and 10 percent of the total operating and debt service budgets. For the Workers’ Comp/Tort Fund, the fund balance target is between 1 and 2 percent of the operating budget. For SGSA, the fund balance target is the full fund balance from the prior year. For the debt service funds, the amount should be sufficient to cover potential risks, as determined by the Treasury Department. All capital projects funds are re-appropriated for capital projects.

Given these targets and the fund balance estimates above, Table 2 below summarizes the fund balance status compared to targets.


Table 2: Fund Balance Falls Short of Targets (in millions)

Fund Type

Estimated Balance at 6/30/2016

 Fund Balance Target

Estimated Balance at 6/30/2017

General Fund


$299.0 (5%)


Workers’ Comp/Tort Fund


$54.6 (1%)


Supplemental General State Aid Fund




Debt Service Stabilization Fund


Enough to cover risks



Once again, the General Fund and the Workers’ Comp/Tort Fund will not meet the fund balance targets at the end of FY17. CPS will ask the Board to extend the deadline to replenish the fund balance for FY17 and FY18 while it continues to seek a long-term solution to the pension inequity issue and reform state education funding.

As the district replaces its variable rate debt with fixed rate and after having fully exiting from swaps, the need for the Debt Service Stabilization Fund becomes minimal.


FY17 Plans for Replenishing the Fiscal Stabilization Fund

CPS will continue the following policies in FY17:

  • Partner with the Governor, the General Assembly, and the Chicago Teachers Union to build on the FY17 compromise, enacting pension equity so that Chicago taxpayers do not pay twice for teacher pensions, once for Chicago teachers and also for all other teachers.
  • Encourage the state to reprioritize funding for education and reform its current education funding formula.
  • Provide limited capital investment funded by CPS, consistent with the proposed FY17 Capital Improvement Program, and seek outside sources of funding wherever feasible.
  • Secure private foundation grants to pay for enrichment programs as much as possible.
  • Closely monitor spending to achieve savings and efficiencies wherever possible and continue streamlining administrative expenses.

1 Board Report 08-0827-PO8

2 This fund balance must by statute be re-appropriated to the schools in the budget year where it was unspent in the current year.

3 This includes funds set aside to pay for open purchase orders, services/goods received but not yet paid, and non-spendable fund balance, including endowments and prepaid assets.

Page Last Modified on Wednesday, August 17, 2016