The FY18 budget for Chicago Public Schools includes a capital plan totaling $136 million for urgent facility repair projects, IT investments and school security equipment.
This plan builds off of the nearly $1 billion investment included in CPS’ FY17 capital plan, which was funded primarily by the Capital Improvement Tax – a property tax levy introduced in 2016 that provides funding specifically for school construction, equipment and maintenance. CPS issued bonds against this levy in December 2016 to fund critical investments in new schools, major renovations to existing schools, IT upgrades and programmatic investments to provide excellent educational facilities for CPS students.
The $938 million of investments included in the FY17 original and supplemental capital plans is funding major projects that will take two to three years to complete. These projects will relieve overcrowding in the city’s most crowded schools, address the district’s most critical renovation needs, equip classrooms with modern technology and improved internet access, and provide new educational programming options at schools across the city.
As the district completes the projects from the FY17 capital plan, the FY18 capital plan provides additional funding to address new critical needs as they arise. Though smaller in size than previous capital plans, the plan focuses on addressing the highest priority roof, envelope, and mechanical needs the district will face in FY18 while providing additional funding for crucial investments in security and IT infrastructure.
Under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CPS and the Board of Education have provided over $3.2 billion since FY12 to build new schools, provide playgrounds and air conditioning, improve access to technology with new computers and expanded bandwidth, expand academic programs (career and technical education programs, for example), and make core investments in facilities to maintain roofs, fix chimneys, and replace or fix boilers and other mechanical systems. This has been done to ensure students have a high quality learning environment to support their education.
The new investments included in the FY18 capital plan will be funded by proceeds from the sale of real estate, remaining prior year bond proceeds, and other capital funds and bond proceeds as they become available. The Board intends to borrow to reimburse for projects as necessary, depending on future market access, and could issue a supplemental capital plan later in the year.
Of the $938 million FY17 capital budget, today, nearly $730 million in capital projects are underway at over 140 schools, each supporting CPS’ vision of expanding high-quality academic options for families across the city. Some projects have been completed and work on others has yet to begin.
CPS’ 5-year capital plan will include investments in overcrowding, deferred maintenance, targeted site improvements and emergency projects. Given the uncertainty of funding going forward, however, a comprehensive plan is not available at this time.
Addressing Urgent Facility Needs
The FY18 Capital Budget provides $109 million to address the district’s most urgent facility needs. $73 million has been allocated to priority renovation projects at schools with major roof, envelope, and mechanical repair and replacement needs, and another $36 million provides the ability to address any unplanned major renovation and maintenance repair needs.
Critical Investments in IT Infrastructure and Security
Included in the FY18 Capital Budget is $7 million to support the district’s critical IT systems and provide new and replacement security equipment to schools. $3 million will support the district’s ongoing implementation of a new student information system, a system used daily by schools and central office to track student and school-level data. An additional $2 million will support investments in the district’s internal network infrastructure and upgrades to its accounts payable system.
In addition to these investments, $2 million will fund new and replacement security equipment at schools – including cameras, intercom phones, alarms, and screening equipment – to ensure student safety at every school.
The District’s FY18 Capital Plan is available on the interactive capital website at cps.edu/capitalplan, providing community members with easy access to detailed information on all capital projects that are planned and underway. The site allows users to quickly select projects by school, geographic area, type, and year. The site has been designed to encourage public engagement and comment.