Top of Page

Schools and Networks 2021

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is investing in the continued academic success of its students by allocating over $4.1 billion in school budgets in FY2021. This is an increase from the $3.8 billion budgeted for FY2020.

FY2021 is the eighth year that CPS has used Student-Based Budgeting (SBB) to fund schools. SBB allocates funds to schools on a per–pupil basis, which helps ensure that funding is fair and equitable, as dollars follow students.

CPS is increasing the SBB rate to align with the teacher salary increase in the CTU contract. The base SBB rate for FY2021 is $4,665.35 per pupil, compared to $4,506.93 in FY2020.

For the second consecutive year, CPS is providing school–based equity grants to support high–needs schools and ensure all students are able to access a high–quality education. The FY2021 equity grant provides $44 million in school–based funding to support 255 elementary and high schools and reflects a $13 million dollar increase from FY2020. CPS continues to prioritize per–student funding for students from low–income households by increasing Supplemental Aid allocations from $920 to $950 per student and maintaining total school-based Title I funding despite declining enrollment across the district.


CPS school budgets are based on student enrollment and demographics. For more information on student demographics, please see Appendix A.

For the third straight year, budgets for SY2020–21 are based on each school’s 20th day enrollment during SY2019–20. Funding schools based on prior year enrollment ensures that schools will not see a budget reduction in the fall, even if enrollment declines. However, if a school’s enrollment in the fall of SY2020-21 exceeds 20th day enrollment from the fall of SY2019–20, schools will receive additional funding. This model allows schools to plan confidently for the year ahead without concern for potential budget reductions and provides school-based staff greater certainty about their positions in the coming year.

Table 1: FY2020 Enrollment by School Type Used to Set FY2021 School Budgets
School Type
FY2020 20th Day Enrollment
Pre-K K-12 Total
Traditional District-Run Schools 16,355 275,744 292,099
Charter Schools 55,646 55,646
Contract Schools 2,495 2,495
District Specialty Schools 1,137 1,144 2,281
District Options Schools 446 446
ALOP/SAFE 2,189 2,189
Total District Enrollment 17,492 337,664 355,156

Number of Schools

Per CPS definition, a school:

  1. Is officially authorized by the Chicago Board of Education;
  2. Is based in one or more buildings inside the geographic boundaries of the City of Chicago;
  3. Has or will have one of the following governance structures: a local school council, an appointed local school council, a board of directors, or a board of governors;
  4. Employs at least one administrator to lead the school;
  5. Employs at least one credentialed person to provide instruction to students;
  6. Provides an appropriate curriculum for each grade level served that, at a minimum, meets all requirements of the Illinois State Code;
  7. Requires progression toward a terminal grade level within a single school, regardless of physical location;
  8. Is not defined under Illinois School Code as something other than a school (e.g., an Alternative Learning Opportunity Program is not a school); and
  9. Has or is intended to have at least one actively-enrolled student during the school year.

Based on this definition, there are 638 schools in FY2021. Table 2 provides the school count by type.

Table 2: FY2021 Number of CPS Schools by School Type
School Type Description FY2020 FY2021
Traditional district schools District-run schools funded through SBB 500 499
Charter schools Public schools managed by independent operators and certified under state charter law 118 115
Contract schools Public schools managed by independent operators under a contract with the district 9 9
District specialty schools District-run schools that primarily serve students with significant diverse learning needs or early childhood students. 10 10
District options schools District-run high schools for students in restricted environments or students who need educational alternatives to traditional high schools 4 4
SAFE school programs Schools managed by independent operators for students who have been expelled from other schools due to violence 1 1
Total schools   642 638
ALOP programs Programs managed by independent operators that provide educational options for students who have dropped out of school and seek to return 8 8

The following table explains the change in school count between FY2020 and FY2021.

Table 3: School Openings and Closings Between FY2020 and FY2021
School Short Name Description Change
District Run Schools
Hope High School Zero students enrolled -1
  Net Change in District Run Schools -1
Charter Schools
Chicago Virtual Charter School Revocation Approved by Board -1
Frazier Preparatory Academy Charter School Revocation approved by Board -1
Foundations College Prep Charter School Mutual consent by Board and Foundations College Prep -1
  Net Change in Charter Schools -3
  Total Net Change in Schools -4

School Budget Overview

The FY2021 budget contains more than $4.1 billion budgeted at school units. The following tables show fund and position allocations by school type and funding category:

Table 4: FY2021 Funding in School Budgets, by School Type and Department ($ in thousands)
School Type SBB Diverse Learners Bilingual Early Childhood Other Programs Title I Supp. Aid Operations Total
District Run $1,659,569 $712,263 $32,866 $187,583 $115,219 $151,458 $210,160 $150,780 $3,219,898
Charter/Contract $359,559 $93,013 $3,235 $0 $204,312 $49,604 $46,835 $3,406 $759,964
ALOP $14,632 $4,355 $131 $0 $8,877 $2,484 $1,745 $0 $32,224
Specialty $3,974 $37,457 $646 $9,369 $5,295 $600 $1,211 $1,368 $59,920
District Options $1,717 $3,754 $52 $0 $4,795 $10,960 $372 $305 $21,955
SAFE $680 $136 $1 $0 $409 $10 $68 $0 $1,304
Total $2,040,131 $850,978 $36,931 $196,952 $338,907 $215,116 $260,391 $155,859 $4,095,265
Table 5: FY2021 Positions in School Budgets, by School Type and Department (FTEs)
School Type SBB Diverse Learners Bilingual Early Childhood Other Programs Title I Supp. Aid Operations Total
District Run 13,968 8,387 277 2,112 1,031 1,256 1,911 3,324 32,266
Charter/Contract 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 105* 105
ALOP 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Specialty 30 481 6 102 39 1 3 28 690
District Options 12 31 1 0 37 79 1 6 167
SAFE 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 14,010 8,899 284 2,214 1,107 1,336 1,915 3,463 33,228

*FTE at charter and contract schools include federally funded lunchroom staff and security staff, the latter of which are deducted from tuition payments made to the schools that have them.

The following sections discuss funding for core instruction and additional funding received by schools.

Funding for Core Instruction (SBB)

Traditional District Schools

Traditional district schools are funded through SBB. The only district-run schools that do not fall in this category are the ten specialty schools and four district options schools, which are discussed in later sections.

In aggregate, SBB funding for district-run schools is increasing by $43 million from FY2020. This reflects the SBB rate increase, as well as increases in the equity grant and other SBB funding inputs (see Appendix B).

Table 6: FY2021 Schools and Enrollment at Traditional District Schools ($ in millions)
Traditional District Schools FY2020 Budget FY2021 Budget Change
Number of schools 500 499 (1)
Number of K-12 students 282,771 277,561* (5,210)
SBB funding, in millions $1,622 $1,665 $43

*Although initial school budgets for FY2021 are based on 20th day enrollment from FY2020, a small number of schools received a requested funding increase based on anticipated enrollment growth. Schools that see additional enrollment growth above current numbers will receive additional funds after the start of the school year.

Charter and Contract Schools

Charter and contract schools are public schools managed by independent operators and offer an alternative to traditional district-managed schools.

SBB is the largest portion of the general funds budget, and it is allocated to charter and contract schools. The general funds budget also includes some funding categories that are considered district-wide shared obligations, such as the unfunded pension liability. Charter and contract schools do not receive tuition funding based on these shared obligations. Funding for operations, security, Central Office expenses, and education support programs are paid to charter and contract schools through non-SBB funding, rather than through citywide spending for district-run schools. This ensures that these schools receive an equitable share of centralized spending and of each categorical funding source, where applicable. For more details on how charter and contract schools will be funded in FY2021, please see Appendix B.

Table 7: Projected SBB and Non-SBB Tuition Funding at Charter and Contract Schools
  FY2021 Projections
Number of schools 124
Number of K-12 students (FY20 20th day count) 58,141
SBB funding, in millions $359.6
Non-SBB funding, in millions $121.4
Total general education tuition payments, in millions $486.2

Alternative Learning Opportunity Programs (ALOP)

Alternative Learning Opportunity Programs provide different educational options for at-risk youth who have not been consistently enrolled in school. Since 2011, CPS has expanded partnerships with providers that specialize in working with off-track youth and has more than doubled the number of available seats in ALOPs.

Table 8: Projected SBB and Non-SBB Tuition Funding at ALOPs
FY2021 Projections
Number of programs 8
Number of K-12 students (FY20 20th day count) 2,176
SBB funding, in millions $14.6
Non-SBB funding (operations), in millions $5.2
Total general education tuition payments, in millions $19.8

Specialty Schools

Specialty schools primarily serve students with significant diverse learning needs and students in Pre-K. Specialty schools include:

  • Three early childhood centers serving only Pre-K students (Vick, Thomas, Stock)
  • Three early childhood centers serving Pre-K students and a significant number of diverse learners enrolled in primary grades (Blair, Beard, Rudolph)
  • Four high schools serving 100 percent diverse learners (Northside Learning, Southside, Graham, and Vaughn).

In FY2021, specialty schools will receive $7.7 million in funding for core instruction, which comes through both discretionary dollars and centrally funded positions, in addition to $1.9 million for Supplemental Aid and Title I allocations. The remainder of specialty schools’ budgets is for Pre-K and diverse learner programming specific to each school. This funding is provided by the Department of Early Childhood Education and the Office of Diverse Learner Support Services. To account for the specific needs of the diverse learners they serve, the costs of these schools are significantly higher than traditional schools when compared on a per-pupil basis.

District Options Schools

District options schools serve students in confinement, at risk of dropping out of school, or who have dropped out and wish to return. District options schools include one school located at the Cook County Jail (York), one school located at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (Jefferson), one school that serves pregnant women (Simpson), and one school that serves returning dropouts and students at risk of dropping out (Peace & Education Coalition).

In FY2021, district options schools will receive a core allocation of $7.8 million for teachers and administrative positions. In addition, the schools will receive $8.8 million in supplemental Title I positions to help address their unique challenges.

SAFE Schools

SAFE schools provide an educational option to students who have been expelled from another CPS school due to violence. CPS has one SAFE school, which is managed by an independent operator. The SBB and non-SBB tuition cost for this school is $921K, which is partially offset by a state Regional Safe Schools grant.

Additional Funding Received by Schools

Although funding for core instruction is typically the largest portion of a school’s budget, schools receive additional funding to meet specific student needs, including funding for diverse learners, bilingual students, early childhood students; program costs; and school operations. See Appendix B for information on funding formulas for these allocations.

Diverse Learner Funding

Diverse learner allocations are based on the number of special education teachers and paraprofessionals needed to deliver the supports and services defined in Individualized Education Plans. Initial allocations are determined by each school’s special education population as of Spring 2020. Allocations may be updated during the year in response to changes in student support needs.

Language and Cultural Education

Schools receive supplemental bilingual education teachers and per-pupil funds based on their number of English learners (ELs). There are two programs: Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) for schools that have 20 or more ELs of the same language background and Transitional Program of Instruction (TPI) for schools that have fewer than 20 ELs of the same language background. The Office of Language and Cultural Education (OLCE) tracks ELs and allocates supplemental bilingual teachers and funds to schools.

The FY2021 budget contains $36.9 million in supplemental funding to schools, which includes hiring 250 supplemental bilingual education teachers. Bilingual education is supported by local funding and dedicated state and federal funding.

Early Childhood

To better meet family needs and ensure children are receiving services that will set the foundation for long-term success, CPS has expanded its investment in early childhood education in FY2021 and will provide an additional 43 full-day preschool classrooms in high-need communities. The expansion of full-day Pre-K continues the district’s four-year plan to provide all four-year-olds in Chicago with access to high-quality, full-day early childhood education.

The FY2021 budget contains $294 million in funding for early childhood education, both in CPS and in community-based programs managed by the City of Chicago. This includes $188 million allocated at 369 elementary schools for early childhood programs, including universal Pre-K, child parent centers, and tuition-based programs. $80.2 million is allocated to the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) for Preschool for All (PFA) and the Prevention Initiative (PI) programs that are implemented at various community-based organizations.

Additional funds are budgeted centrally for items such as:

  • Professional development for teachers and administrators;
  • Curriculum and instructional materials, furniture, and technology;
  • Student and teacher assessments; and
  • Nutritious snacks for full-day programs.

Early childhood programs serve Pre-K students, ages 3 and 4, and are funded primarily from the state Early Childhood Block Grant and local funds. CPS also provides state grant funding to community-based providers for early childhood programs up to age 5, as noted above and described more fully in the Early Childhood department narrative, but this funding is not reflected in school budgets.

Other Programs

Schools that offer board-funded educational programming receive additional teaching positions or funding. All programs except for STEM are funded from general funds. Details on these programs are found in their respective departmental narratives. Significant programs are included in Table 9.

Table 9: Board Funded Programs
Programs Positions (FTEs) Budget ($ millions)
FY2020 Budget FY2021 Budget Change FY2020 Budget FY2021 Budget Change
Academic Centers 1.0 1.0 0.0 $0.10 $0.11 $0.00
Classical Schools 17.2 18.0 0.8 $1.80 $1.94 $0.14
Critical Language Initiative 30.0 30.0 0.0 $3.14 $3.23 $0.09
Dual Language 0.0 1.0 1.0 $- $0.11 $0.11
International Baccalaureate 133.5 137.0 3.5 $13.96 $14.75 $0.79
International Gifted 2.0 0.0 -2.0 $0.21 $- -$0.21
JROTC 148.0 146.0 -2.0 $15.47 $15.72 $0.25
Magnet - Fine & Performing Arts 0.0 4.0 4.0 $- $0.43 $0.43
Magnet Cluster Programs 106.0 108.0 2.0 $11.08 $11.63 $0.55
Magnet Schools 156.4 157.4 1.0 $16.35 $16.95 $0.60
Montessori Programs 46.0 49.0 3.0 $3.06 $3.36 $0.30
Regional Gifted Centers 24.1 23.0 -1.1 $2.52 $2.48 -$0.04
Regional Gifted Centers ELL 7.0 7.0 0.0 $0.73 $0.75 $0.02
Selective Enrollment HS 35.0 35.0 0.0 $3.66 $3.77 $0.11
STEM* and STEAM Programs 57.0 92.0 35.0 $5.96 $9.91 $3.95
World Language 0.0 1.0 1.0 $- $0.11 $0.11
Totals 763.2 809.4 46.2 $78.04 $85.25 $7.21

*Includes grant funding

Discretionary Funds

CPS schools receive two discretionary funding sources that provide targeted support to low-income students: Supplemental Aid and Title I.

Supplemental Aid (SA) funds are distributed to schools based on the number of students who are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals under the federal Child Nutrition Act of 1966 and the National School Lunch Act, as of the 20th day of the school year. For FY2021, CPS increased the rate from $920 per student to $950, providing over $260 million in total funding. SA follows the same spending rules as local funds, allowing greater flexibility in how funds are used.

Title I of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides funds to schools with high concentrations of low-income, educationally disadvantaged students who require supplementary services. Approximately 89 percent of CPS schools qualify for Title I discretionary funding. Even though the district’s enrollment has decreased, CPS is maintaining the aggregate school-based Title I allocation in 2020-21, which is raising the average per-student Title I allocation from $887 to $908.

Research has shown that students from low-income households generally require additional resources to be successful, and the increase in SA and Title I per-student funding will help ensure all of our students have the support they need to reach their potential.

Operational Expenses

Schools receive additional positions, services, and funding for various operational expenses. In FY2021, the following operational funding appears in schools budgets:

  • Security: School security officers and security aides are assigned to schools by the Office of Safety and Security. Security positions are budgeted at schools.
  • Food Service: This includes the labor costs of the lunchroom staff; the food costs required to provide lunch and breakfast are budgeted centrally.

Other operational expenses are managed by the Central Office to ensure district-wide efficiency and savings. Among the positions managed centrally are bus aides, engineers, and custodians. Please refer to the department narratives for more details about each of these operational areas.

Private Schools

Students, teachers, and parents of private/nonpublic schools are entitled to federal support through Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (Title I, Title II, Title III, Title IV) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). As a result of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, private/nonpublic schools will also be entitled to a proportionate share of the CARES Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) for the FY2020–21 school year. CPS must set aside a share of the federal funds it receives to make services available to eligible private/nonpublic school students, teachers, and parents. However, these funds are not paid directly to the private schools; instead, CPS operates these programs on behalf of eligible students, teachers, and parents.

Each year, CPS oversees and manages services for approximately 61,000 students in 250 private schools, totaling almost $31 million under ESSA and additional $19 to $28 million under ESSER. In addition, CPS oversees services for children who attend seven residential sites that specialize in serving children under the guardianship of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

The following table shows the allocations for each of the federal programs. Funding is proportionate to the number of eligible students in each private school compared to the student’s designated CPS neighborhood school. FY2020 ESSER and FY2021 ESSA amounts are projections; the final amounts will be determined after the district’s applications are approved by the Illinois State Board of Education.

Table 10: FY2021 Budget for Private School Programs
Federal Program ESSA FY2020 Budget ESSA FY2021 Budget ESSER FY2020 Budget ESSER FY2021 Budget
Title I (Improving Academic Achievement of Disadvantaged Students) $18,999,805 $22,229,507 $22,229,507 NA
Title IIA (teacher and principal training and recruiting) $2,942,957 $2,880,291 $2,880,291 NA
Title III (Language instruction for ELs) $351,658 $417,260 $417,260 NA
Title IVA (Student support and academic enrichment) $519,658 $2,456,634 $2,456,634 NA
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) $2,171,830 $2,739,323 $2,739,323 NA
Title I, Part D (Neglected) $507,839 $648,630 $648,630 NA
Uses of Funds as indicated in ESSER Grant NA NA NA $19M - $28M
Total $25,493,747 $31,371,645 $31,371,645 $19M - $28M


District-run schools are organized into networks, which provide administrative support, strategic direction, and leadership development to the schools within the network. In FY2019, CPS moved from a 13-network structure to a 17-network structure to better support the unique needs of both elementary and high schools. Under the revised structure, elementary schools remained in their current networks, and high schools were placed into four new networks.

Networks are led by network chiefs who are responsible for building effective schools with strong leaders. Network chiefs play an integral role in developing professional development plans, collecting and assessing data to drive interventions, supporting schools in developing and implementing their Continuous Improvement Work Plan, collaborating on best practices with other networks, and fostering community and parental involvement. Networks are supported by deputy chiefs, data strategists, instructional support leaders, and administrative personnel. High school networks have a designated network operations manager, data strategist, and shared executive assistant.

Each network also has a social emotional learning specialist and a specialized services administrator, which appear in the budgets for the Office of College and Career Success and the Office of Diverse Learner Support and Services. All network staff report to the Office of Network Support.

There are instances where schools are exempt from network oversight. High-performing principals who are a part of the Independent School Principals (ISP) program have the autonomy to operate their schools with reduced oversight from Central Office. Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) schools are also not included in the 17-network structure.

Table 11: FY2021 Network Structure
Network City Planning Zones
1 Sauganash, Reed-Dunning, Albany Irving
2 Ravenswood
3 Austin, Belmont-Cragin
4 Logan, Lincoln Park
5 Humboldt Park, Garfield, West Humboldt, North Lawndale
6 Near North, Near West, Loop, Bridgeport, Chinatown
7 Pilsen, Little Village
8 McKinley Park
9 Bronzeville, Hyde Park, Woodlawn
10 Beverly, Midway, Chicago Lawn, Ashburn
11 Englewood, Auburn-Gresham
12 Chatham, South Shore
13 Far South, Far East
14 High School Network 1 (shares planning zones with elementary networks 1, 2, and 4)
15 High School Network 2 (shares planning zones with elementary networks 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8)
16 High School Network 3 (shares planning zones with elementary networks 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11)
17 High School Network 4 (shares planning zones with elementary networks 9, 12, and 13)
AUSL Citywide - Academy for Urban School Leadership schools
ISP Citywide - Independent Schools not assigned to networks

In FY2021, each network will receive a $110,000 non-personnel budget for administrative expenses and professional development. This represents a 100 percent increase from FY2020. The increase in non-personnel will be used for leadership coaching and strategic teacher support. In addition to non-personnel budgets, each network receives a foundation allocation of personnel, and additional positions may be allocated based on a variety of factors including number, types, and needs of schools served. Non-personnel costs are funded through general education funds, while positions are funded through general education, Title I, and Title II funds.

Table 12: FY2021 Network Budgets
Network Personnel Non-Personnel FY2021 Budget
1 $1,424,065 $110,000 $1,534,065
2 $1,165,078 $110,000 $1,275,078
3 $1,534,134 $110,000 $1,644,134
4 $1,385,486 $110,000 $1,495,486
5 $1,512,172 $110,000 $1,622,172
6 $1,318,865 $110,000 $1,428,865
7 $1,302,602 $110,000 $1,412,602
8 $1,327,483 $110,000 $1,437,483
9 $1,349,201 $110,000 $1,459,201
10 $1,385,784 $110,000 $1,495,784
11 $1,742,385 $110,000 $1,852,385
12 $1,249,146 $110,000 $1,359,146
13 $1,644,200 $110,000 $1,754,200
14 $494,515 $110,000 $604,515
15 $413,787 $110,000 $523,787
16 $365,780 $110,000 $475,780
17 $396,598 $110,000 $506,598
Total $20,011,282 $1,870,000 $21,881,282

Related Links