December 14, 2011
School communities across Chicago will benefit from an ambitious capital program being implemented during the 2011-12 fiscal year by Chicago Public Schools. The District will present a capital construction and improvement program to the Chicago Board of Education on Wednesday, December 14th, that includes significant investments to promote school safety, expand early childhood learning in underserved communities, bring school technology systems into the 21st century and relieve significant overcrowding at overenrolled schools, among others.
Several months ago, the Board approved a broad FY 12 capital plan of $391 million, to be funded by state funds, City of Chicago tax increment financing and other funds, as well as proceeds of CPS bonds. Presentation of the capital program specifics follows months of detailed work by District officials to assess and prioritize needs. The full FY 12 program includes an additional appropriation of $269 million that were only partially appropriated in prior budgets or funded by external sources, such as city, state and federal governments. Altogether, the proposed FY 12 capital program totals almost $660 million.
"These investments will have immediate and significant impacts to help boost the achievement of thousands of students in every corner of the city," said CPS Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard. "We need to provide students with the tools and environments they need to be successful. Access to new technology, safe learning environments, nutritional supports, and structurally sound schools are all important ingredients in supporting our schools leaders and teachers to give our students the tools they need to be prepared for college and career."
The capital program includes projects in schools throughout the city, and will allow CPS to invest in both brick and mortar projects – such as roofs, masonry, window replacement and boilers – and enhance educational programming identified as priorities by the District's administration. In addition, it will continue the District's efforts to make its facilities accessible to people with disabilities.
The capital investments will address critical safety, nutritional, early childhood, IT and college and career-ready initiatives designed to help drive student achievement. Some specific projects include:
- $14 million is proposed for work that supports college and career programs at a number of high schools, serving more than 6,000 students at Lindblom, Richards, Roosevelt, Schurz, Simeon and Sullivan. Among those programs are pre-engineering, culinary arts and hospitality, business, digital media and information technology. Separately, college and career program enhancements are also part of a $75 million capital project at Chicago Vocational that includes a major rehabilitation of the building which serves about 1,000 students.
- $18 million is proposed for information and technology services, including upgrading IT networks at 120 schools serving about 86,000 students. Much of that money comes from federal E-Rate funding.
- $9.9 million in state grant funds and CPS matching contributions will fund early childhood centers in order to increase early childhood services in underserved communities. Schools that stand to benefit from this funding include Camras, Hanson Park, McCormick and Locke, as well as community-based early childhood projects. The project would add new space as well as renovate and rehab existing facilities that will create some 280 slots to early childhood programs that currently serve 380 students.
- $7.7 million will purchase state-of-the-art digital security camera systems at 14 high schools serving 16,000 students and related security equipment throughout the district to enhance school safety and security.
- $3.9 million will be used to replace non-functioning equipment in school kitchens across the city to support health and nutrition programs.
New construction and facility expansion identified in the capital plan include:
- Jones College Prep, $96 million for a new high school campus to be built with Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds that will serve 1,200 students. Pending TIF grant agreement and City Council approval.
- Southeast Area Elementary School, $45 million, partially funded by TIF funds, to construct a new school that will serve 1,200 students and helps meet the area's demographic needs for additional classroom space. Pending TIF grant agreement and City Council approval.
- Edison Park, $15 million. The current building is more than 40 percent overenrolled with 428 students and no additional capacity at neighboring schools to provide relief.
- Hale, $15 million. The current building is more than 60 percent overenrolled with 864 students and no additional capacity at neighboring schools to provide relief.
- Bell, $10 million for an annex to be constructed with state funds. The school serves nearly 1,000 students in three programs – neighborhood, gifted and hearing impaired – and needs additional space.
Beyond these broad categories, the plan includes projects at another three dozen schools that vary in size and scope, such as roof replacement, painting, dining room expansion, elevator and locker, installation, lighting upgrades and playlots.
Brizard said the District has taken a new approach in developing this year's capital plan. "This is part of a multi-year strategy that relies on a rigorous process in selecting projects and which brings new levels of transparency to our decision-making," Brizard said.
After facility conditions were assessed District-wide and ranked based on priority needs, various filters were applied:
- Will the building be receiving additional students or is it overcrowded? Is a program change likely?
- Are potential investments aligned with community input and feedback, and are the investments distributed throughout the city equally?
- Do proposed project budgets adequately address anticipated priority needs for the building over the next five years?
"The end result is the District making sound and sensible decisions on how to best spend available dollars in ways that have the most beneficial impact on students and their learning environment," Brizard said.
Chicago Public Schools serves 405,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation's third-largest school district.