CPS budget for next school year includes funding increase

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After years of financial uncertainty, Chicago Public School teachers received more money, not less, in budgets delivered to them earlier this year than in years past. (WLS)

Chicago Public Schools principals received their budgets for the 2018-19 school year Tuesday, and much earlier than in years past.

An additional $60 million will be split among all CPS schools. The budget also includes extra money for schools with low enrollment. Special Education is also getting a funding boost.

A new state funding formula gave CPS a bigger financial cushion for the upcoming year.

"This is a good time to be the leader of CPS, because our financial situation is much stronger than it was two years ago," said CPS CEO Janice Jackson.

Jackson said each school will get an additional 2.5 percent for each student enrolled. The school district funds their schools by a student-based budgeting formula, which is based on student enrollment and as such hurts schools with declining numbers of students. To make sure those schools don't lose teachers or programs, CPS is allocating an extra $10 million for the 129 schools with low enrollment, including Gale Elementary in Rogers Park.

"When students decline there are staffing gaps, so this year I'm happy we won't have to deal with those issues," said Augie Emuwa-Gale, Gal Elementary principal.

The budget also includes more money for special programs and Special Education.

"I've acquired an additional Special Education teaching position, which we need at my school," said Emily Feltes, principal of North Grand High School.

While principals are happy, the Chicago Teachers Union said the additional 60 million going to schools this year doesn't come close to making up for cuts in years past.

CTU said the school district remains financially unstable.

"The number one group that has benefitted from the infusion of cash into CPS are the bond holders, people that lent money to CPS and they are laughing all the way to the bank," said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey.

There will be new postsecondary counselors for more students, and the budget includes more support for at-risk students.

Some of the extra money each school is getting will help pay for teacher salary increases. And following a huge outcry, CPS is returning to its old way of funding special education. The central office will decide how many positions each school gets, rather than giving schools money to pay for the cost of those jobs.

The school district has spent the past couple of years battling back from a $1.1 billion deficit.
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