— Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today released its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15), which despite a growing budget deficit, makes significant investments in schools, programs and facilities that will benefit students in neighborhoods across the city. The FY15 budget keeps cuts from the classroom through $55 million in central office, administrative and operational reductions, totaling $740 million since 2011. Despite receiving less funding from the state for education spending than any other state and growing pension obligations, CPS continues to make academic investments around District priorities – raising base per pupil funding, increasing seats at high-performing STEM and IB schools, and expanding opportunities to earn college credit while still in high school.
“This proposed budget demonstrates that despite continued fiscal challenges, we put children, families and high-quality instruction first,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “We continue to work diligently to keep cuts away from the classroom and have been able to present a budget that increases per pupil funding, while also making crucial investments in CPS facilities and programs that will allow all of our children, no matter where they live, to be able to attend a good public school and start school ready to learn. .”
Approximately $4.8 billion of the District’s proposed $5.7 billion budget for FY15 is directed toward
schools, ensuring that students have the tools, resources and supports they need for college, career and life. In FY15, the District’s pension contribution will be $634 million, the largest single-year pension obligation the District has faced.
Under the proposed budget, CPS will be able to boost base per pupil funding by $250 because of the continued streamlining of Central Office operations. The District’s per pupil funding allocation model has given principals more flexibility to allocate core instructional dollars, while also providing a fair and equitable funding model in which the money follows the students. The District’s dedicated effort to direct available resources to classrooms has resulted in 97 percent of all CPS positions directly supporting schools.
The FY15 budget also allocates $466 million in capital spending, which will allow CPS to modernize facilities and increase access to high-quality programs throughout the District. The capital spending in the FY15 budget allows for the creation of five new IB feeder schools. It also provides significant overcrowding relief through the construction of annexes and modular classrooms while utilizing TIF revenue to build the city’s 11th selective enrollment high school.
The CPS strategic safety investments have led to School Year 2013-2014 being the safest school year on record since CPS started tracking student safety data in 2007. CPS expanded the successful Safe Passage program, serving 94 schools and protecting 53,227 students with 1,200 community members employed in the program. In FY15, an additional $1 million will expand the Safe Passage program. CPS has taken major steps to improve school climate through integrating restorative justice approaches, increasing social and emotional supports and anti-bullying curricula.
The investment CPS is making in students and schools throughout the District is largely due to a concerted effort to reduce operational spending outside of the classroom. A total of $55 million was cut from the FY15 Budget through a variety of efficiencies, including new a facilities management contract, the optimization of bus routes and central office position cuts.
In addition to savings achieved through Central Office cuts, CPS has been able to fill its FY15 budget gap by extending the District’s revenue recognition period to August 29 -- 60 days after the end of the fiscal year -- which will provide the District with several hundred million dollars of additional one-time resources. The extended revenue recognition period brings CPS in line with the City of Chicago and the majority of school districts in Cook County, which already have up to 60-day recognition periods. This is a one-time fix for this year and gets the District through next school year without having to initiate major cuts to the classroom, but without pension reform, we may not be able to protect the classroom from cuts.
The proposed FY15 budget will be made available for public comment and review. The final budget is expected to be presented to the Board for a vote at its July meeting which is currently scheduled for July 23. For additional information on the FY15 budget, please view the District’s budget website at www.cps.edu/budget
Chicago Public Schools serves 400,000 students in 658 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.