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Reader’s Guide 2021

The Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) FY2021 Proposed Budget is the financial policy plan proposed to the Chicago Board of Education for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020, and ending June 30, 2021. The proposed budget is available to the public at The website contains the official budget document as well as an interactive site that includes detailed reports on all dollars and positions in the district budget. Physical copies of the FY2021 Proposed Budget are available at the Board Office at 1 North Dearborn St., Suite 950, Chicago, Illinois 60602.

The FY2021 Proposed Budget includes narrative overviews of CPS programs, goals, financial policies, and procedures; a budget summary; and detailed financial tables.

The following chapters are included:

Budget Overview

The Budget Overview provides a summary of the district’s budget and highlights the district’s major strategic initiatives and developments around funding. The Overview discusses how resources are invested to achieve district goals and objectives. Summary tables, including year-to-year and budget to actual comparisons, provide additional insight into CPS’ financial picture.


This chapter describes each of the district’s revenue sources, the assumptions and factors that influence our revenue projections, and year-to-year comparisons.

Schools and Networks

This chapter provides an overview of school budgets and the resources given to schools, as well as a year-over-year comparison of total school funding. It defines the various types of schools in Chicago, the demographics, and the programs provided to students. Additionally, the chapter outlines the network management structure for district-run schools, which provides administrative support and leadership development to schools and school leaders.


This section profiles each Central Office department, including its mission and major programs, FY2021 budget summary, major accomplishments, and key budget initiatives.


This chapter provides a basic overview of the district’s pension obligations, funding streams, and projected future outlook.

Capital Budget

This chapter describes CPS’ plan for major infrastructure investments, outlines the projected expenditures for multi-year projects, and explains the impact of the capital budget on operating expenses. A separate capital plan website with project details can be found at

Debt Management

This chapter provides detail on the Board’s debt management practices. It presents a complete picture of the district’s use and management of debt, including current outstanding debt, proposed debt issuances, and all debt service requirements.

Organization Chart

The organization chart reflects the leadership and organizational structure for CPS.

Fund Balance Statement

This chapter explains CPS’ goals for maintaining and calculating a minimum fund balance (cash reserve).

Fund Descriptions

This chapter describes the four governmental fund types used by CPS to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent as authorized: General Fund, Special Revenue Funds, Capital Projects Funds, and Debt Service Funds. CPS will continue to distinguish how funds are received and spent by using the following categories: General Budgeted Funds, School Generated Funds, State and Federal Grant Funds, Capital Projects Funds, and Debt Service Funds.

Cash Management

This chapter provides detail about CPS’ projected cash flow throughout the fiscal year and cash management strategies.


This section includes answers to some typical questions about the Budget Book and our interactive website.

More Information

This section includes the following appendices:

  • Appendix A Demographics: Provides detailed information about the district structure, school population and employees, and the larger community in which our students and their families reside.

  • Appendix B  School Funding Formulas: Outlines the funding formulas used to allocate resources to schools.

  • Appendix C  Budget Process: Provides CPS’ detailed budget calendar and process, which is required by law.

  • Appendix D  Financial Policies: Explains the policies and procedures followed during the budget process.

  • Appendix E  Glossary: Provides an alphabetical listing of specialized terms found throughout the budget book.

Interactive Budget Reports

In addition to the budget book, CPS provides enhanced interactive budget reports that allow readers to view the entire operating budget and get more detail on any component of the budget. 

The interactive reports include:

  • Budget by Unit, including schools and Central Office departments
  • Budget by Fund, such as general fund or federal and state grants
  • Budget by Account, such as salary, benefits, commodities, and contracts
  • Budget by Program, such as instruction, support services, and community services
  • Revenues and Expenditures report, providing information on general operating funds, as well as debt service and capital funds
  • Find My School, which lists all schools by network

The reports provide a high-level overview before drilling down into more detail. For example, if you search under “Budget by Unit,” you will find the department (or parent unit) name, three-year budget and expenditure detail, and a three-year view of budgeted and ending full-time equivalent positions. These are followed by the individual department units that roll up to the parent unit, with budgets and positions listed by Fund-Grant. For tracking purposes, grants that are subject to rollover each year are assigned a new six-digit identifying number. Some grant periods cross fiscal years.

Expenses are identified by program numbers, which correlate to state function codes. Code 1000, for example, pertains to all instruction-based expenditures. Select “State Function Description” to get a complete list of program names and numbers.

The “Find Your School Budget” report is the quickest way to get budget information about a particular school. The top of the report contains a search box where you can type a school name and go directly to that school’s budget.

The School Budget reports also allow you to drill down for more detailed information such as:

  • Student enrollment counts
  • A school’s budget by account
  • A school’s budget by fund source
  • The number of teachers and support personnel positions budgeted and staffed at the school

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