The FY2019 budget for Chicago Public Schools includes a capital budget totaling $989 million of investments in long-term district priorities, improvements to make sure every high school in the city offers state-of-the-art access to science labs and district-wide access to digital learning tools. Building significantly onto the $136 million in investments made in the FY2018 capital budget, this proposed plan is the largest single-year plan since the Mayor of Chicago became responsible for the performance of CPS in 1995. To support schools throughout the city, the FY2019 capital plan provides funding in five main areas: critical facility needs, overcrowding relief, educational programs, site improvements, and IT and security upgrades.
Under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CPS and the Board of Education have invested $4 billion since FY2012 across the city to build new schools, provide playgrounds and air conditioning, improve access to technology with new computers and increased bandwidth, expand academic programs, and make core investments to fix and maintain our facilities. Today, there are nearly $791 million worth of major capital projects underway at over 185 schools. Each project supports CPS’ vision of equitably expanding high-quality academic options for families across the city.
The FY2019 capital budget is funded by proceeds from remaining prior year bond issuances backed by the Capital Improvement Tax (CIT) and state revenues, upcoming bond issuances, and potential outside resources as they become identified. The FY2018 capital budget was funded primarily through bonds issued in November 2017.
CPS’ five-year capital plan will include further investments in overcrowding, deferred maintenance, targeted site improvements and emergency projects.
Modern Computing Resources for All Students
To improve access to modern technology in schools throughout Chicago, the district is beginning a four-year, $125 million investment that will ensure all schools have the devices and internet connectivity needed for students to engage with the modern educational resources that teachers are choosing to utilize throughout the city.
In FY2019, CPS is allocating $50 million to support the district’s highest need schools. CPS will provide new equipment to support the use of classroom technology at 24 schools — many of which lack enough devices for all students or have computers that have reached the end of their useful life. An additional 40 schools will receive new devices and equipment to allow them to build on their current resources and provide students greater access to digital resources. School wireless networks will also be upgraded in 66 schools to provide increased capacity for access to online resources. Additionally, district-wide management software will be deployed to provide greater controls of devices within the classroom.
In each of the following three years, CPS will invest $25 million each year to build on current technology in schools, so that by FY2022 all students are able to access a computer and utilize modern educational resources at the direction of their teacher.
Addressing Critical Facility Needs
The FY2019 capital budget provides $336 million to address the district’s priority renovation projects and most urgent facility needs, including major roof, envelope, and mechanical repair and replacement. The district’s preliminary capital plan included $189 million for these investments, and the final capital budget includes an additional $147 million.
This funding will address 27 roof and envelope projects and nine replacements and renovations of boilers and mechanical systems. Along with these projects, the funding will cover $64 million of additional priority roof and mechanical projects, $40 million of unanticipated emergency repairs, $23 million of district maintenance priorities, $2 million for a chimney stabilization program, $0.5 million of student accommodations.
Investing in High-Quality Educational Programming
The FY2019 capital budget includes $339 million for critical infrastructure investments that support the district’s high-quality educational programs. $117 million has been identified for building renovations to expand programming at nine schools (Decatur, McCutcheon, McDade, and Poe elementary schools, and Hyde Park, Phillips, Prosser, Rickover, and Senn high schools).
This budget also includes providing $43 million to expand STEM, IB, and Magnet programming and high school science lab upgrades, and $18 million for new Pre-K centers. Finally this investment includes $46 million in site improvements to design and build new playgrounds, play lots, and turf fields at schools across the city.
$145 million has been reserved for two new high schools: a new school for Hancock HS, and a new high school on the near west side. CPS will engage stakeholders on the near west side to hear how best this new school can serve their community.
Providing Overcrowding Relief
The FY2019 capital budget includes $138 million to alleviate overcrowding at several schools across the district. CPS considers multiple factors when prioritizing schools for overcrowding relief. Generally, schools with boundaries receive priority for overcrowding investments, especially when long-term enrollment projections suggest that capacity issues will worsen. Additionally, new construction is considered if there is limited availability of nearby leased space to alleviate capacity, and if there are programming deficiencies, such as dedicated lunchrooms or gymnasiums, that can only be provided via new construction.
Included in this investment are 4 annexes to relieve some of the district’s worst overcrowding. These will provide additional classroom and programming space at Dirksen, Palmer, Rogers and Waters elementary schools.
Additionally, CPS is working with community leaders on the northwest side to identify a location for a proposed new elementary school to address overcrowding in the area.
Critical Investments in IT and Security Infrastructure
In FY2019, CPS is also allocating $31 million to support the district’s critical IT systems throughout the city. Of this, $12 million will be dedicated to improving internet connectivity and network infrastructure across the district and $3 million will support the ongoing implementation of a new student information system that schools and central office will use daily to track student and school-level data. An additional $6 million will support investments in the district’s data storage, financial reporting, and payroll software and hardware.
Other improvements include $5 million for fire alarm and temperature control replacement and $2 million for an air conditioning replacement program to maintain the district-wide air conditioning investments of the past four years.
Finally, to ensure student safety at every school, $4 million will fund new security equipment including state-of-the-art cameras, intercom phones, alarms, and screening equipment.
The district’s FY2019 Proposed Capital Plan is available on the interactive capital website at cps.edu/capitalplan, providing community members with easy access to detailed information on all capital projects that are planned and underway. The site allows users to quickly select projects by school, geographic area, type, and year. It also allows users to scroll over an interactive map to gather details by area. The site has been designed to encourage public engagement and comment.