Dear CPS Stakeholder:
The Chicago Public Schools Fiscal Year 2014 budget protects critical investments in the future of Chicago’s next generation while reflecting the challenging financial realities of a district facing a historic $1 billion budget deficit. This year’s deficit, driven by a $400 million increase in pension payment obligations coupled by flat and declining revenues and increasing contractual and statutory obligations, has led to some difficult choices. But in spite of our financial challenges, our commitment to providing every child in every community with a high-quality education is as strong as ever, and the district, parents, teachers, principals, community members, local elected officials and business leaders must work together to protect investments in student learning that will maintain the tangible progress being made by our students.
Thanks to the hard work of CPS principals, teachers, families, students, and community members we continue to see growth in essential areas such as graduation, attendance and standardized test scores. The progress we have made as a district can only be sustained and improved if we continue to invest in areas that have been proven to enhance student achievement. This includes expanding access to quality early childhood education, full day kindergarten, increasing the amount of time available for learning, raising the bar for powerful instruction, and creating positive, safe, nurturing school environments that are conducive to learning and that foster our students’ creativity and motivation.
In order to meet demand from CPS students and families, we are increasing access to high-performing schools and expanding the number of seats in magnet, selective enrollment, International Baccalaureate and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs. We are expanding valuable Career Technology Education (CTE) programs to prepare students for the careers of the 21st century, and increasing access to quality professional development to build the capacity of our teachers and leaders to ensure every child in Chicago benefits from the work of talented professional educators.
This year, we are implementing a Student Based Budgeting process that is transparent and equitable, while providing maximum flexibility for principals to drive student success. Empowering principals to enhance student learning is an essential part of our strategy because we know that principals, as instructional leaders of their schools, are in the best position to manage resources to improve their students’ achievement.
As we continue to work with all stakeholders to put the District on the path to long-term financial stability while improving academic outcomes, we will also continue to marshal external resources wherever feasible to fund programs and supports that benefit our students.
This year’s budget aligns with “The Next Generation: Chicago’s Children,”our five-year action plan, and ensures CPS meet its most urgent needs and educational priorities while recognizing our real fiscal constraints. Our students cannot afford to wait another day for the quality education they need and deserve. As a former teacher and principal, and as CEO, I know CPS will not be able to solve these problems on our own. We will need the continued input and assistance of all stakeholders including parents, community leaders and legislators to find solutions that enable us to meet these challenges while maintaining critical investments that support student learning.
As a District and as a city, our mission is to support our children to ensure they achieve their dreams. I thank you for your partnership and commitment as we work together to develop the next generation of Chicago’s leaders.
Chief Executive Officer, Chicago Public Schools