CPS Capital Budget Focuses on Key Education and Health/Safety Projects 

Proposes $110 Million to Address Immediate Needs in FY 13, From New Playgrounds to Repairing Decades-old School Chimneys


May 2, 2012


Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today unveiled its proposed One- and Five-Year Capital Improvement Plans and highlighted nearly $110 million in investments for FY 13. Given limited resources and the current fiscal crisis, the One-Year FY 13 Capital Plan addresses the most pressing necessities and critical infrastructure needs facing the District including areas of health/safety, as well as key capital priorities designed to support student achievement. Combining the FY 13 capital proposal with $765 million in capital projects in the pipeline from prior year capital plans, there are more than 200 projects planned or underway to address needs at hundreds of schools throughout the District.


“This year’s capital budget reflects our commitment to investing in infrastructure projects that address the critical and immediate needs facing schools as well as student learning,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. “And despite the difficult fiscal climate we face, we cannot ignore the fact that our school buildings need repairs so we also must commit resources to ensure safe and secure learning environments for students.” 


For the first time, CPS has unveiled its capital plan through a new website at www.cps.edu/capitalplan, which provides an unprecedented level of detail with easy access to information on all capital projects – both planned and underway. The site allows users to scroll over an interactive map to gather project details by area. The site encourages public engagement and comment for overall better planning and implementation of the capital program. 


The FY 13 capital plan is guided by educational goals, health and safety maintenance and investments in efficiencies. Priorities include investments in Early College Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Schools and recess initiatives and projects focused directly on protecting the health and safety of the students, teachers, and adults in the school community. This includes repairing masonry and chimneys that are cracked and at risk of crumbling, roofs that are leaking and causing interior damage, and boilers that are in urgent need of replacement. There also are projects that pay back their cost many times over such as utility savings from efficiency upgrades. Highlights include:


Playgrounds: The plan proposes spending $3.6 million to construct or replace 12-15 playgrounds at schools yet to be determined.  That is in addition to 39 new or replacement playgrounds that are in the pipeline as part of the FY 12 capital plan. The playgrounds complement recess, a key District priority in implementation of the Full School Day starting this fall. The proposed Five-Year Capital Plan includes $3.6 million per year for playground projects through FY 2017.


Science Technology: Approximately $4.5 million is proposed to prepare Michelle Clark, Corliss and Lakeview High Schools for the specialized Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum they will offer to incoming freshman students beginning this fall.


IT: Upgrades More than $13 million of information technology investments or upgrades including additional bandwidth for the wireless network at 100 schools and in-school network upgrades for 120 schools along with the upgrade or replacement of end-of-life network and data center equipment. This also includes the funds required to install the new Google Apps that will help drive student performance. These investments will be supported by federal E-rate funds.


Improvements and Repairs to Chimneys: A total of $5 million has been set aside for stabilizing or replacing approximately 10 chimneys in a state of disrepair. The District is currently assessing the conditions of chimneys, many of them tall, aging smokestacks, at 225 schools. The order of repair will be determined based on life-safety considerations The District is currently repairing a number of these chimneys under the FY 12 capital plan. Similar funding levels for chimney repair are included in the five-year capital plan.


Building Renovations: Two neighborhood schools, Oriole Park and Higgins Academy, are in desperate need of imminent repair after years of temporary fixes and will benefit from major building renovations. At Oriole Park, $2.5 million is planned for roofing, masonry repair and window replacement. At Higgins, $2 million will pay for roofing work and site improvements, parking lot improvements and fencing.


Energy Performance Program: Approximately $39.9 million, funded through the City of Chicago’s Infrastructure Trust, will be dedicated to a District-wide Energy Performance program that supports the Mayor’s “Retrofit Chicago” initiative. The program’s components include:


  • Installing energy dashboards that will provide each school with real-time energy usage information available to both the school and to Central Office.
  • Retrofitting existing lighting at 320 schools with new high-efficiency lighting systems. After July 1, the T-12 bulbs used at many schools no longer will be available, making the transition to higher-efficiency T-8 bulbs necessary as well as fiscally prudent.  Officials estimate the cost of replacement will be recaptured in three-to-five years.
  • Conducting energy audits of facilities to identify potential energy conservation and efficiency measures at the District’s 100 most inefficient facilities. All building mechanical systems and controls will be re-commissioned to ensure systems are operating efficiency and effectively.


The Five-Year Capital Plan projects capital expenditures in FY 14 of $97.9 million, in FY 15 of $203.1 million, in FY 16 of $201 million and in FY 17 - $201.9 million. The tough fiscal climate is expected to continue to crimp capital projects for the next couple of years, but after that CPS expects to increase its brick-and-mortar investments. The Five-Year Capital Plan does contain specific proposed projects, though their scope is dependent on the development of the District’s Educational Master Facilities Plan, which CPS must release in draft on January 1, 2013. 


Public input into the capital budget will be available both through the dedicated website at www.cps.edu/capitalplan and at public hearings, which will take place at locations and dates to be announced at a later date. Testimony on the capital budget will take place as part of the public hearings on the District’s proposed FY 13 operating budget, which is due for release in June.


Developing and posting the proposed One- and Five-Year Capital Plans ensures that CPS has complied with the requirements of Public Act 97-0474 (SB 630), which established a required framework for Chicago Public Schools in its facilities planning process by requiring annual and five-year plans, and a 10-year Educational Facilities Master Plan. The law includes guidelines for school actions and requires bi-annual assessments of facilities, as well as establishing an annual capital plan release date and an annual report updating any differences in the previously released plans. In partnership with the Chicago Education Facilities Task Force, the Act ensures broad public participation and transparency in CPS planning. The proposed One- and Five-Year Capital Plans complement the space utilization standards released on January 1, 2012 and will supplement the upcoming Annual Capital Expenditure Report to be provided by September 30, 2012, and the Education Facilities Master Plan to be released in draft on January 1, 2013.  Development of an Educational Master Facility Plan, also required under the legislation and due later this year, is under way.


About CPS

Chicago Public Schools serves 405,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.


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