Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Thanks to the tireless advocacy of our families, educators, parents, and lawmakers who pushed for historic funding reform, Chicago Public Schools is now on significantly stronger financial ground. As a result of the district’s improved financial position and a revised state education funding system that better supports CPS and other school districts that educate limited-income students, CPS is pleased to propose a budget that responsibly invests more in schools so students can continue their historic growth, highlighted most recently in a groundbreaking study by Stanford University professor Sean Reardon.
The proposed budget funds key priorities, including nearly $1 billion in capital investments to modernize schools across the city, the initial phase of our expansion of free, full-day Pre-K for 4-year-olds and major academic investments at schools in every neighborhood. For many students, this will mean new annexes, classrooms, playgrounds, and turf fields. For others, it will mean renovated school buildings that are safe and ready for the new school year.
As part of our plan to modernize Chicago schools, we are beginning a three-year $75 million investment to ensure all high schools have state-of-the-art science labs. And to ensure we are providing our children equitable access to cutting-edge technology, we will invest $50 million in capital funds this year to increase internet bandwidth and purchase new classroom computers and devices for our highest need schools to bridge the digital divide and enhance instruction. This is the first phase of a four-year $125 million investment plan.
Rigorous academic programs have also fueled students’ impressive gains, and this budget prioritizes proven programs that help students prepare for college. Beginning this fall, more than 5,000 additional students will benefit from investments in STEM, International Baccalaureate (IB), magnet, and classical schools that will provide them with the skills and knowledge to be successful in college, career, and life.
We will also expand our world language and Early College STEM programs to move the district closer to our goal of having 50 percent of students earn at least one college or career credential before graduating high school. And to further support our students plan for life after graduation, we will form a new team of post-secondary counselors to help 7,000 additional students create solid post-secondary plans for success after high school.
With increased state funding, CPS is also launching the first phase of our free, full-day Pre-K for 4-year-olds, with an initial group of 3,700 young people who come from the families with the greatest need. This is another effort in Mayor Emanuel’s ambitious plan to narrow the achievement gap by providing free universal Pre-K to all 4-year-olds in Chicago by 2021.
With an increase of more than $60 million in school budgets and additional increases in resources dedicated to low-income students and schools struggling with declining enrollment, Chicago schools will have the resources they need to continue the incredible academic progress they have made in recent years.
By investing in our schools in a way that is consistent with the core commitments of our three-year vision — academic progress, financial stability, and integrity — we are working to move the district forward and support the incredible educators, students, and families who make Chicago Public Schools a national leader in urban education.
Janice K. Jackson, Ed.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools