FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 30, 2015
For more information, contact:
CPS Office of Communications
CHICAGO – Facing a critical budget deficit, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today announced that 82 high schools and elementary schools will change their bell schedules for the 2015-16 School Year (SY 15-16), part of a District-wide streamlining of transportation services that is expected to save CPS $13.5 million next year.
“Every dollar we save by staggering school bell times and streamlining transportation services next school year is one more dollar we don’t have to cut from our classrooms,” CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said. “No matter how grave our financial challenges are, we are committed to our students’ learning and their safety. We will continue to work with principals and parents to minimize disruptions and protect in-school time, as well as develop a comprehensive plan to address after-school activities. Looking ahead, we will continue to work with our partners in Springfield on a comprehensive budget solution to prevent deeper cuts and more unsustainable borrowing later this year.”
CPS is facing a $1.1 billion operating deficit as a result of declining state educational funding and a broken pension system. To avoid classroom cuts, CPS is shifting schools’ bell time in order to reduce transportation costs as part of $200 million in cuts to central office, operations and programming. The $13.5 million Chicago Public Schools is saving by modifying transportation services will go directly to the area that is the key to all of our improvement efforts – our schools. These current reductions are critical in the face of inevitable additional future budget challenges.
The plan to shift bus arrival times resulted from an analysis that revealed that CPS’ transportation costs far outpace those at other large, urban districts.
Chicago is one of a handful of major districts in the country that doesn’t stagger its elementary and high school start times; as a result, the average cost for CPS to transport a student is more than triple the median cost for districts with more than 100,000 students, with CPS paying an average of $4,450 per student and other districts paying $1,250, according to the most recent data from the Council of Great City Schools. CPS costs are higher resulting from the District running more buses on fewer routes, as a result of bell times that aren’t staggered. CPS buses make an average of 3.2 runs per day, while similar districts make 5.1 runs.
The majority of CPS schools will keep their SY14-15 bell times. A list of schools with new bell times is available here
Most CPS high schools that shift times will see their start moved to 9 a.m. beginning on the first day of school, September 8. Elementary schools affected by the change will start earlier to align with new bus schedules.
Later this summer, CPS will also release a list of magnet school bus stops that are being consolidated for an additional $2.3 million in savings. Last school year, magnet students who chose to use the district’s busing reported to their local attendance school for pick-up; in the upcoming school year, students who will use the district’s busing will report to stops that are 0.6 miles from their homes on average, and no more than 1.5 miles from their homes. As a result of the bus stop consolidation, CPS will also be reducing bus monitors for a savings of $2 million.
Chicago Public Schools serves 396,000 students in 664 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.