May 2, 2014
CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has released a proposed capital budget for fiscal year 2015 (FY 15) that includes strategic investments to keep schools structurally sound and safe, create positive, comfortable learning environments, and modernize classrooms to provide students with a 21st century education that puts them on a path to graduate 100 percent college ready and 100 percent college bound. This budget continues the District’s commitment to repairing, upgrading, and improving schools across the District that are on average over 75 years old, while also continuing CPS’ streamlined approach to capital spending. The complete draft FY15 capital budget, which will be submitted to the Board of Education for approval later this year, is available at www.cps.edu/capitalplan.
“Although we are operating in a difficult financial climate that demands fiscal prudence, we must continue to invest in our schools in order to ensure that all of our students are in learning environments that are equipped to provide them with the high-quality education they deserve,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “While our $3.5 billion dollar capital deficit far outweighs what we are able to address, we have put forth a capital plan that will allow us to make essential investments that are crucial to our core mission of providing every student in Chicago with an education that will promote success in the classroom and in life.”
The draft FY 15 $423 million capital budget utilizes about $260 million in District financing, $134 million in outside funding and other revenue sources to support CPS’ goal of creating 21st-century learning environments and expanding high-quality options for families throughout Chicago. CPS is committed to identifying every available dollar from District capital funds, state funds and TIF revenue to invest in modernizing classrooms across the district.
This is also CPS’ second smallest bond funded capital plan in six years, reducing CPS’ reliance on issuing capital debt. Faced with significant financial challenges, CPS is leveraging every possible dollar in this capital budget, including tapping into state funds to build a long-anticipated annex at Wildwood World Magnet Elementary School, federal money for noise abatement at Ebinger Elementary School, and accessing TIF revenue to build the city’s 11th selective enrollment high school, Barack Obama College Prep.
Under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the District has made critical investments to relieve overcrowding and expand high-quality school options for students across the city. CPS has spent more than $1 billion since FY 12 on needed facility improvements that align with the District’s 10-Year Educational Facilities Master Plan. The Plan, adopted last year, calls for safe, supportive learning environments that include sufficient space for all students, equitable access to advanced technology, play lots, modern computer and media labs, air conditioned libraries and ADA accessibility. Those projects have included a $75 million revitalization of the Chicago Vocational Career Academy announced in 2012, the completion of the Back of the Yards International Baccalaureate (IB) High School in 2013, and five new IB elementary schools announced earlier this month – expanding the country’s largest network of IB schools.
In FY 15, CPS proposes $22 million in investment to make needed structural repairs and building modernization at the national Blue Ribbon-Award winning Lane Tech High School, which had the District’s highest enrollment at 4,120 students this school year. Another $7 million will be spent on modernization efforts, including the building of three new computer labs, at Dunne Technology Academy, a K-8 Level 2 school on the Far South Side.
Since 2012, CPS has addressed overcrowding at 33 schools across the City. CPS continues to invest in overcrowding relief in FY 15, building annexes at Arthur E. Canty Elementary School, Minnie Mars Jamieson Elementary School and Richard Edwards Elementary School. Edwards (69 percent over-capacity), Canty (50 percent over-capacity) and Jamieson (30 percent over-capacity) are among the District’s most over-utilized schools, with expected growth at these school communities.
Overcrowding relief is also being delivered at Cassell, Hitch and Prussing elementary schools and Prieto Math and Science in the form of modular units that will provide each school with between six and eight additional classrooms.
The draft FY 15 capital plan also includes a $20 million investment to provide air conditioning to 57 schools that currently lack it. CPS has committed to ensuring that every school has air conditioned classrooms within the next five years, and these 57 highest priority schools will be the first to receive this investment because they either currently have no air conditioning or are partially air conditioned.
To help inform students, parents, teachers and community members about the FY 15 capital budget and its proposed investments, CPS has also today updated the interactive web application that shows school-by-school improvements scheduled for FY 15 and the next four years. This web application is available at www.cps.edu/capitalplan.
CPS serves 400,000 students in 658 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.