March 19, 2013
As it faces a $1 billion budget deficit next year, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is continuing its efforts to reduce Central Office spending and consolidate resources to focus on investing directly into the classroom and students’ education. CPS Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced today that CPS has identified $15.7 million in transportation savings for its Fiscal Year 2014 Central Office budget. This adds to anticipated savings and cuts made to the Central Office and operations announced over the past month that total more than $51 million.
“We will continue to make the smart financial decisions, including identifying any and all possible savings, that help us provide every student with the high-quality education they deserve,” said Byrd-Bennett. “With new efficiencies, we will be able to provide better transportation service for less money, allowing us to redirect resources into the classroom to deliver a quality education to every child in every neighborhood.”
CPS transportation savings come through streamlining bus schedules and optimizing bus routes with no expected impact on student transit times and quality of service. Specifically, they include:
- $11.9 million in savings from adjusting bell times to enable better utilization of buses, allowing CPS to reduce the number of buses used across the city;
- $2 million in savings from route optimization that reduce the number of routes needed by making each route more efficient; and
- $1.8 million in savings expected from shifting from standard-sized buses toward vans for paratransit students, better aligning vehicle size with ridership.
“We are working to build a school district that gives our students the best chance to excel,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "CPS and CEO Byrd-Bennett will continue to make smart, necessary decisions that focus their limited resources on making the investments that are critical to supporting our students’ bright futures.”
This latest savings announcement is part of a process of optimizing bus transportation that CPS has undertaken over the past couple of years. This process has resulted in reducing the number of buses and routes needed to get students safely to and from school while maintaining service levels for students and families. This school year, CPS bus vendors run about 2,000 routes per day, a decrease from 2,200 routes run per day in the 2011-12 school year that saved CPS over $7 million with no reduction in service levels. And CPS expects to continue shifting paratransit service from larger, standard-sized buses to customized vans that better align with the small ridership each paratransit route serves.
CPS buses five percent of its students. Almost all of the students CPS buses are special education students or attend selective enrollment programs. CPS uses 20 vendors and about 1,600 vehicles to get its students to and from school. Seventeen of the 20 vendors are minority- or women-owned businesses, and the majority of vendors are based in or around Chicago.
Today’s announcement represents the latest in a series of Central Office savings CPS has identified over the last several weeks. On Feb. 25, CPS announced the identification of $15.5 million in engineering and energy savings that will be used to pay for an expansion of full-day kindergarten across the district. Earlier this month, CPS released a request for proposals to save up to $3 million annually in reduced real estate costs. Last week, CPS said it had identified an additional $17 million in Central Office cuts.
Chicago Public Schools serves 403,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.