CPS moves to student-based budgeting

September 23, 2013 4:44:52 PM PDT
After months of cuts and bad budget news, there is encouraging budget news for some Chicago Public Schools: the school board says there will no more cuts for declining enrollment.

Every student counts, but especially on Monday. Chicago Public School budgets are based on 20th day enrollment and this year, the district has moved to student-based budgeting. Schools get money based on the number of students they have, rather than the old formula where positions were funded based on enrollment.

"Student-based budgeting is really a way to ensure we have transparency in the budgeting, the dollars follow the youngsters, principals have autonomy to make decisions about the money they receive," said Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CEO, Chicago Public Schools.

An amount of money that CPS critics say is way too low. CPS says schools get about $4,400 for each student in Kindergarten through 3rd grade; $4,100 for 4th through 8th grade; and $5,100 for high school students. The group Common Sense Coalition for LSC's says those numbers have already led to big budget cuts.

"We need to realize most neighborhood schools opened four weeks ago today were under-funded with large class sizes and elimination of fine arts, music drama," said Kate Bolduc, Common Sense Coalition for LSC's.

And many schools with enrollment lower than projected were expecting more cuts but CPS is giving those schools a well-needed break. Money will not be taken away from them this year, which the Chicago Teachers Union says is a step in the right direction. But the CTU fears the new student-based budgeting will force principals to make some difficult choices.

"They don't have enough money, yet they are forced to make staffing decisions in which do I lay off an art teacher or do I lay off veteran English teacher," said Jesse Sharkey, vice president, Chicago Teachers Union.

The new budgeting formula will give principals complete control over their budgets. All CPS schools will receive their 20th day enrollment figures on Tuesday. That is when principals will know exactly how much money their school will get this year.


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