CHICAGO — The Chicago Board of Education voted without opposition today to pass Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15), which will protect crucial investments throughout the district and provide every student in Chicago with the high-quality educational resources they deserve. Despite a nearly $1 billion budget deficit, which is largely driven by skyrocketing pension costs and insufficient state funding, CPS students and families will benefit from an FY15 budget that makes significant investments in district priorities.
“The budget passed today provides our students with tools, resources and facilities that will promote success in the classroom and beyond,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “While we have allocated funding to support key priority areas and crucial needs, this budget reflects the reality of our serious fiscal challenges. We will always strive to direct as much funding as possible to classrooms, but without action from Springfield to bolster state funding and act on comprehensive pension reform, the district will have to make even more difficult decisions in the future.”
In order to provide principals with increased flexibility to allocate core instruction dollars, CPS’s FY15 budget boosts per pupil funding by $250. The District’s increase in per pupil funding was only possible following a dedicated effort to streamline Central Office operations to reduce spending and prevent cuts to school funding. This year, CPS has reduced Central Office, administrative and operational funding by $55 million, which is part of $740 million in cuts away from the classroom since 2011.
As a result of the District’s streamlining of Central Office, 97 percent of positions and 85 percent of all CPS expenditures in FY15 are directed to schools.
Despite significant financial constraints, the FY15 budget makes necessary, lasting investments in the district’s key priority areas to drive student achievement. In FY15, CPS is adding five new IB feeder schools, providing $2 million to expand IB programs and $8 million in capital build-out. This is in addition to the 6,000 students who have gained access to 12 high school and six elementary IB programs that have been established since 2011.
As part of the District’s effort to ensure that 100 percent of CPS students are college ready and college bound, the FY15 budget includes support to add 15 additional high schools to the dual credit dual enrollment program, which allows students to receive credit toward a college degree. The increased capacity provided in the FY15 budget will increase dual credit enrollment from approximately 300 students in FY11 to 4,700 students in FY15.
In order to support CPS’s new arts plan and physical education (PE) requirements, the FY15 budget contains $13 million in funding for 84 arts and 84 PE teachers at 171 schools. With the implementation of CPS’s new arts plan, CPS will be the first large school district in the country to offer an arts liaison for every high school.
The FY15 budget includes $510 million in capital spending, which will provide students and staff throughout the district with the high-quality facilities and resources they deserve. In order to reduce significant overcrowding at District schools, the FY15 budget funds the construction of annexes at Arthur E. Canty Elementary School (50 percent over-capacity), Minnie Mars Jamieson Elementary School (30 percent over-capacity) and Richard Edwards Elementary School (69 percent over-capacity). These schools are among the city’s most over-utilized schools, and the annexes will allow each school to appropriately handle the expected growth of each school community.
Following School Year 2013-2014, which was the safest school year on record since CPS started tracking student safety data, the FY15 budget includes a $1 million expansion of the successful Safe Passage program. The additional funds provided in the FY15 budget will allow the District to expand Safe Passage to six additional schools. This past school year, the Safe Passage program served 94 schools and protected 53,227 students in Chicago.
While the District’s FY15 budget makes many significant investments that will help provide Chicago’s children with a path to success, it was only able to do so after closing a nearly $1 billion budget deficit. The district was able to close the budget gap by extending its revenue recognition period to August 29, which is 60 days after the end of the fiscal year – a practice that brings CPS in line with the City of Chicago and the majority of school districts in Cook County. This is a one-time fix that allows the District to prevent further cuts to school budgets in the absence of increased state funding or comprehensive pension reform from Springfield. Illinois is currently last in the nation in education funding and without increased funding or pension reform, the District may not be able to prevent cuts to the classroom in future budgets.
For additional information on the FY15 budget, please visit www.cps.edu/budget.