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CPS Invests $225 Million in Additional School Funding To Address Critical Needs Created by COVID-19 and Support Daily In-Person Instruction Next Year

21 April 2021

CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620
Twitter: @chipubschools
Facebook: chicagopublicschools

Key investments for the 2021-22 school year include:

  • $85 million in flexible funding to begin to address needs caused by the pandemic with a historical amount of additional resources to follow in near future;
  • $66 million (increase of $22 million from FY21) in Equity Grants to support high-needs schools and ensure all students are able to access a high-quality education;
  • $30 million in additional special education funding to advance equity and meet student needs;
  • $32 million investment to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on enrollment;
  • $16 million to expand access to free full-day Pre-K; and
  • $17 million in additional funding to increase nurse, social worker and case manager staffing levels to an all time high in the district.

CHICAGO — Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today released school budgets for the 2021-2022 school year, which provides $225 million in additional funding that prioritizes the needs of students and communities through a focus on holistic social-emotional and academic supports, provides additional support related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and offers schools critical resources to support daily in-person instruction next school year. In addition to the school budgets provided today, CPS will soon introduce a comprehensive framework that is informed by community feedback and funded by federal stimulus dollars to further address the unique academic and social and emotional needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The vast majority of district schools (94 percent — 482 of 513) will see increases in their FY22 school budgets as a result of this historic investment. 

“An unprecedented year has called for unprecedented investments in the lives of our students and our city's future," said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "This budget is emblematic of CPS's unwavering commitment to ensuring our young people have the educational, mental and emotional supports they need to thrive today, tomorrow and well into the future. I commend CPS for pushing through the challenges of this past year to continue driving equity-focused and inclusion-driven investments into our school communities."

“Chicago Public Schools is wholly committed to providing schools with the resources they need to support in-person learning and adjust to the academic and social-emotional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “Based on community feedback, this year’s budget provides nearly 80 percent of schools with equity grants and additional funds to offset COVID-19 related enrollment losses. CPS is looking to the future with a renewed commitment to equity, focus on for social-emotional and academic support, and ensuring our schools are equipped to provide a high-quality education for all students.” 

Budgets to Support Daily in-Person Instruction for All Students in the Fall

Consistent with expectations set earlier this month by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CPS is planning to offer daily in-person instruction for all students when the 2021-22 school year begins. The budgets issued today and the FY22 operating budget, which will be released later this year, will include the resources needed to safely support daily instruction for all students when class begins in the fall.

To ensure the district’s plans are aligned to the needs of families, CPS will be engaging families in the weeks ahead to help develop specific plans for the upcoming school year. The district also intends to offer a remote learning option for all students who are unable to return when class resumes in the fall.

High-Impact Investments Informed by Community Input and Need

School budgets for the 2021-22 school year include a set of additional investments that are directly tied to community input and have been designed to promote equity. In alignment with recommendations made last year by the CPS School Funding Working Group, CPS held four public forums this winter to gather public input on school funding and other priority areas  in the year ahead. School budgets were informed by the feedback that the CPS received, which focused on the need to address enrollment loss due to the pandemic, academic and social and emotional needs created during the past year, and resource equity. That guidance helped inform the development of school budgets.

$85 Million in New, Supplemental Funding to Begin Addressing Needs Created by the Pandemic

In the near future, CPS will release a comprehensive framework as part of a historic investment to help schools address the needs of students, staff and families in the months and years ahead. As the first part of this initiative, schools will receive $85 million in new, supplemental funding next year to use as school leaders see fit to address needs created by the pandemic. $47 million of those funds can be used at the school’s discretion to provide targeted student support and $23 million will be used to expand Out-of-School Time enrichment programming at all schools. The remaining $15 million will be allocated to charter schools to represent their proportionate share of the funding.  

The full framework to address the academic and social and emotional needs created by the pandemic is being finalized and will be introduced in the near future. The plan is designed to be responsive to community feedback and is fully funded by the federal stimulus dollars that were authorized by Congress this school year. Resources will include mental health supports, access to tutors and mentors, new technology, expanded summer learning, job opportunities, and more.

$32 Million Investment to Mitigate the Impact of COVID-19 on District Enrollment

Schools in Chicago and across the country have seen a significant decline in enrollment due to the pandemic. Since school funding is based in part on enrollment the district will be providing additional support to schools for enrollment-related impacts due to COVID-19 in direct response to community feedback. The district has revised its funding methodology and invested an additional $32 million to ensure that schools are not harmed as a result of enrollment declines that were associated with the pandemic. By calculating what enrollment decline levels are likely pandemic-related based on prior years’ trends, 262 schools received additional funding to offset the impact. A detailed breakdown of the methodology can be found here.   

$66 Million in Equity Grants to Prioritize Our Highest Need Schools and Students

In response to public feedback about the importance of continuously improving resource equity, CPS is significantly increasing Equity Grant funding to support nearly 80 percent of schools (401 in total) through a $66 million investment (up from $44 million in FY21), which is a record-high investment. 

Equity Grants go above and beyond base funding levels to help support schools that have seen a trend of low or declining enrollment, as well as schools that are experiencing community hardship. In addition to equity grant methodology from FY21 which provided funds for schools with low and declining enrollment, in order to target resources for the schools in greatest need, the CPS Equity Office developed a new Opportunity Index, which identifies high-needs schools based on a variety of factors including income, diverse learner populations, community life expectancy, teacher retention, SQRP rating, and additional factors, to better target resources for schools in greatest need. In total, 401 schools are receiving equity grants, with the average school receiving over $165,000 per grant. 

“Equity must be at the core of the decisions we make, especially when it comes to resource equity,” said CPS Chief Equity Officer, Dr. Maurice Swinney. “We are grateful to the many community members and stakeholders who provided us with feedback and helped inform a more equitable budget.” 

Record Number of Nurse, Social Worker and Case Manager Positions

As part of the district’s multi-year commitment to dramatically increase staffing levels in critical support roles — such as full-time nurses, social workers, and case managers — staffing levels are currently at an all-time high. The district continues to work toward providing a nurse and social worker in every school by the 2023-24 school year. 

For FY22, the district is budgeting $17 million in additional funds for 78 nurse, 44 social worker and 51 special education case manager positions, as compared to the preliminary FY21 budget. The majority of the nurse positions have already been opened in order to help respond to the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic. This will result in a total of 504 nurses, 580 school social workers, and 214.5 case managers in our schools, which will each be a record high for the district.

Case manager positions are allocated directly to schools and those funds appear in the school budgets principals are receiving today. Nurse and social worker positions are budgeted centrally and will be included as part of the district’s FY22 operating budget.

62 Additional Pre-K Classrooms to Provide Free, Full-Day Pre-K to Nearly Every Community in Chicago 

To continue the city’s multi-year commitment to make free, full-day Pre-K an option for all four-year olds, CPS is investing $16 million to fund 62 additional Pre-K classrooms, which will serve over 1,200 additional students, in 17 communities — bringing the total of full-day seats to 16,020. As a result of this continued investment, CPS has made age four the point of entry to free, full-day instruction for the vast majority of Chicago families including all families in our highest-need communities. Access to high-quality Pre-K is one of the strongest predictors of a student’s long-term achievement, and our continued expansion of free, full-day Pre-K will positively impact Chicago’s students for generations.

As part of this expansion, CPS is continuing to prioritize students with special needs, increasing full-day access for four-year-old diverse learners by adding 15 blended classrooms, for a total of 121 full-day blended Pre-K classrooms next school year.

$30 Million in Additional Funds to Support Special Education Needs and Expand Opportunities for Diverse Learners at Selective Enrollment High Schools 

Last year, the district instituted a new special education funding process to ensure consistent methodology that equitably allocates resources throughout the district. This year, CPS is maintaining that consistent, equitable methodology and investing an additional $30 million to reflect changing student needs, expand access to blended early childhood programs, and provide diverse learners greater access to selective enrollment high schools. 

Earlier this school year, CPS committed to more than doubling the number of diverse learners who are offered spots at selective high schools. All selective enrollment high schools are receiving at least one additional special education teaching position and one additional case manager position, and additional resources may be provided later this spring based on offers made through the GoCPS process. 

Additional Academic Programs to be Awarded This Spring

For the third consecutive year, CPS will be awarding additional high-quality academic programs to schools that have applied through an equitable application process to supplement their current educational offerings. In the past two years, CPS has added new academic programs to more than 50 schools as a result of the district’s program expansion process. All programs that were awarded during the past two years will continue to receive funding this year, and additional programs will be awarded in the weeks ahead and added to school budgets prior to the fall.

SBB Funding Increase and Guaranteed Funding For the Year Ahead

The Student Based Budgeting rate for FY22 is increasing by 3 percent which will cover the cost of teacher salary increases in the year ahead. And consistent with the district’s approach since Dr. Jackson became CEO, school budgets released today are guaranteed minimum funding levels that will not be reduced in the fall, even if a school’s enrollment declines.

Equitable Funding for Charter Schools

For the third year in a row, charter schools are funded through an SBB model that allocates funding based on student needs. Charter schools receive the same SBB increase as district schools, which results in a $50 million increase in charter funding this year— which includes $35 million additional funding in regular budget funds and $15 million in out-of-school time funding. 

Chicago Public Schools serves 341,000 students in 638 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.