CPS principals getting 1st look at budgets under new formula, drawing mixed reactions

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Thursday, April 11, 2024
CPS principals getting 1st look at budgets under new formula
Chicago Public Schools, or CPS principals are getting their 1st look at next year's budgets under a new formula, which is drawing mixed reactions.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Public Schools principals are getting the first look at their budgets for next year.

A new formula is being used to determine how much money each school gets.

And the change is drawing mixed reactions.

When Chicago Public Schools principals receive their budgets for the next school year, it tends to be an anxious time

"Since I've been at Ariel, for the past three years, just due to enrollment, we've had a decrease in our budget. This is the first year I've been here it's been constant," Ariel Community Academy Principal Scott Scherquist said.

Scherquist is not losing funds this year because CPS' funding formula is no longer based on enrollment. Every school, no matter how big or small, is guaranteed a set number of resources, including an assistant principal and a counselor

"For elementary schools, we are guaranteeing that every school will have a minimum of 10 core classroom teachers and three holistic teachers on top of that," CPS Chief Budget Officer Mike Sitkowski said.

Holistic teachers include art, physical education and another position of principals' choice. It's a funding formula Scherquist finds much simpler.

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"Just knowing that I have at least 12 staff members already staffed and budgeted is a huge relief on me," Scherquist said.

CPS claims the new way does not take away resources for larger schools, selective enrollment or magnet schools.

"As the school gets bigger, they get additional resources, whether it's more teachers and more counselors. If a school is in a high poverty community, their class sizes are going to be smaller than one that is not now," CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said.

But Martinez acknowledges the district faces a $391 million budget deficit, and, if more revenue is not secured, that number will go up, as COVID funds dry up next year.

"I'm making our case to our legislators. I'm making the case to our city officials. I know there are a lot of challenges," Martinez said.

Critics say moving away from enrollment-based budgeting is a financial mistake, especially since some schools have less than 100 students enrolled.

"It's about protecting if not increasing union jobs; you have schools that are at 10-15% capacity," said Paul Vallas, former CPS CEO and mayoral candidate.

While Martinez is hopeful more state money will help close future budgets, he does have the option to close schools when the moratorium expires next year.

But the Mayor Brandon Johnson administration indicates that is unlikely to happen.