Whitney Young considers $500 optional fee to cover budget cuts

June 20, 2013 (CHICAGO)

It's looking at several options to close the financial gap. One is offering an extra course for students for a $500 fee.

Students on lunch digest the news that they're possibly going to be hit up for a $500 fee for taking a seventh class -- one beyond the regular load per semester. Sammy Shields, 15, thinks debate class may be out of his reach.

"Rahm Emanuel says he values public education but he is not allocating the money towards public education," Shields said. "My mom thinks it is pretty crazy."

Students already pay a $400 student fee annually.

I know my parents are not going to be able to pay for it because I have three sisters that go to Whitney Young and plus our fees that is outrageous," said Victoria Gibson, 16.

Whitney Young, recently voted the fifth best high school in the Midwest by the online newsmagazine The Daily Beast, was given a budget for next year that is $1.1 million less than what was spent for the school year that just finished. The administration whittled that down to $780,000 by eliminating substitute teachers, an art position and a security position

"So it is not just a Whitney Young, it is not a North Side, it is not a Payton, it is every single school both elementary and high school that are going to look at some deficits with their budget," said Dr. Joyce Kenner principal, Whitney Young Magnet High School.

In a statement, the Chicago Teachers Union said the $500 fee means "principals are forced to choose between keeping teachers and educating our students. If this continues, public education will no longer be a public good but rather something parents have to pay for out of pockets. And, in the case of Whitney Young only wealthier families will be able to afford it."

The principal said she thinks a better solution is getting 500 of Chicago's richest citizens to pony up $1 million dollars each to cover budget shortfalls across the CPS system. The principal stresses there would be financial aid available to those who could not afford the $500 fee if in fact that's how the school chooses to balance its budget.

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