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Chicago Public Schools Provides Equitable Charter School Budgets for 2019-20 School Year

24 May 2019

Charter Budgets Follow March 2019 Release of District School Budgets That Include More Than $55 Million in Additional Funding to Support Largest-Ever Academic Program Expansion, Free Full-Day Pre-K in 28 Additional Communities, and Equity Grants

CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620
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Friday, May 24, 2019

CHICAGO - Following a year-long process to establish a revised charter school funding approach that provides equitable resources in line with district-run schools, Chicago Public Schools today released charter school budgets for the 2019-20 school year. The release of charter budgets follows the March 2019 release of district school budgets, which include an additional $55 million for district-run schools to support the largest-ever expansion of academic programming, the expansion of free, full-day Pre-K for four-year-olds in 28 additional communities, and $31 million in equity grants to ensure high-needs schools are able to support the high-quality academic programming all of our students deserve.

“Every student who attends a public school in Chicago — whether it’s run by the district or a charter operator — deserves a classroom that is funded fairly and in alignment with their needs,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “We are pleased to have reached an agreement to provide charter budgets that are equitable and aligned to district-run schools, and we thank our charter partners who have worked in good faith toward a strong resolution that benefits students.”

Equitable Approach to Charter School Funding

For the past year, CPS and charter leaders have been working on a revised charter funding process that would align charter school funding to district-school funding to ensure charter funding is equitable.

A revised funding model became necessary following state education funding reform in 2017, which in addition to providing the district with new revenue also required Illinois school districts to fund charter schools based on district spending from two years prior and at a narrow per-student funding range. This approach did not allow CPS to ensure that all schools would receive the necessary funding to support student success for all learners, and in some cases provided funding levels that were either insufficient or excessive.

Following extensive discussions, CPS, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) and nearly all Chicago charter operators have agreed to a revised funding approach that will return to a Student Based Budgeting (SBB) funding model aligned to current funding rates for district schools. The revised approach is codified in a resolution passed by the Chicago Board of Education at its April 2019 meeting. Through this approach, charter schools will receive SBB funding aligned to the 2.5 percent increase provided to district-run schools, for a total year-over-year funding increase of $19 million, which is in alignment with the funding increase district-run schools received.

Agreement Allows Complete FY19 Charter School Payments to be Made

Prior to the 2018-19 school year, CPS provided charter schools with budgets that aligned to district schools in order to prevent an approximately $38 million charter budget cut that would have occurred without a revised funding approach. As part of this process, charter schools signed a memorandum of understanding noting that the additional $38 million provided to align to district schools could not be maintained unless a funding resolution was reached.

In April 2019, CPS provided charter schools their final tuition payment of the year and was forced to exclude the $38 million in supplemental charter funding because a revised funding formula had not yet been reached. Thankfully, due to the agreement reached by CPS, INCS and the vast majority of charter operators, funding that was withheld in April has now been provided to schools. CPS is pleased to have been able to reach an agreement to restore this funding and prevent a significant cut that would have otherwise been necessary.

Charter Operator Participation

Following extensive discussions over the past year to reach a fair funding approach for charter schools, nearly all charter schools have signed agreements supporting the new approach. To date four charter operators have not signed on to the agreement, and those operators did not receive 2019-20 school budgets today and have not received their share of the funding withheld in April 2019 that was contingent upon reaching a funding agreement. CPS is prepared to provide those resources as soon as the operators sign on to the agreement. If they choose not to participate, the district will be forced to withhold the supplemental 2018-19 funding and provide 2019-20 funding that is aligned to the prior funding approach and does not guarantee an equitable distribution of resources.

District-Run Schools Receive More Than $55 Million in Additional Funding

In March 2019, CPS announced that it was increasing funding for district-run schools by more than $55 million in 2019-20. The March budget release was the earliest in recent memory and included funding to support the largest-ever expansion of high-quality academic programs at district-run schools, free Pre-K expansion for four-year-olds in 28 communities, and $31 million in equity grant funding for 219 elementary and high schools that need additional support. This historic investment in neighborhood and district-run schools was made possible by the significant financial turnaround Chicago Public Schools has made in recent years, which is due in large part to the state education funding reform that was won in 2017 by CPS families and city leaders.

CPS is committed to continuing to invest in schools throughout the City of Chicago and will present its full FY2020 operating budget later this year.

Chicago Public Schools serves 361,000 students in 644 schools. It is the nation's third-largest school district.

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