Dear CPS parent,
As a parent and former teacher, I know that connecting one-on-one with parents is critical. I value and honor the vital role you play in making learning a priority that extends from the classroom to the family room. While I cannot meet with each and every one of you one-on-one, I plan to use as many venues as I can to communicate with you on the critical challenges facing our schools and our commitment in addressing them. That’s why I am taking the time to write you today for the first time as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools.
Our school system is facing one of its toughest times yet and with that will come tough decisions, but not at the expense of our priorities. CPS faces a massive budget deficit of $720 million for the upcoming fiscal year. In addition, just last week the State of Illinois cut our budget by an additional $77 million – including cuts in early childhood funding.
I am committed to making sure that we keep these cuts as far away from the classroom as possible in closing this deficit. To help lessen that blow, Mayor Emanuel and I last week announced $75 million in reductions to the CPS central office administrative and non-classroom spending.
On Friday, we submitted school-based budgets to our principals to outline our budget priorities, which aim to protect programs that have the greatest impact on our children´s education. I believe we have crafted school budgets that greatly minimize negative impacts on our classrooms and protect investments in the most critical program areas. They include:
- No reductions to early childhood education programming (despite state cuts to the program), which support 37,000 children from birth through age 8.
- Maintaining our investments in kindergarten, allowing 131 schools district-wide to continue providing full-day kindergarten for 11,000 students (primarily in low-income neighborhoods).
- We will maintain magnet school programming at 264 schools, preserving opportunities for fine arts, Montessori, and math and science enrichment for 150,000 students.
- Core class size will remain the same.
- We will maintain our World Language programs, preserving the teaching of 12 languages to more than 87,000 students at 237 schools citywide.
- We will maintain funding for 40,000 students served by the Culture of Calm initiative, which focuses on improving attendance, behavior, and academic outcomes at 38 schools with high safety needs.
Because of the severity of our budget deficit, we cannot maintain every program at the same funding level as this fiscal year. Some schools will see a reduction in funding for supplemental teaching positions and other staff. Many schools may be able to keep these positions on staff through the use of their discretionary dollars, which we are also funding at the same level in the upcoming fiscal year.
While I just completed my first week as CEO, I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the many dedicated parents of students in our system while visiting schools and during listening sessions that I have begun hosting across the city to engage parents, principals, teachers, students, community leaders and other education stakeholders on how we can provide a world-class education to every child in Chicago. I look forward to meeting you soon, and to working with you on behalf of all our children.
CEO, Chicago Public Schools
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