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Proposed CPS Budget Increases Funding to Support Students and Invests Equitably in Neighborhood School Modernization

16 July 2021

CPS’ FY22 Budget — Bolstered by More than $1 Billion in ESSER Funding — Includes More than $225 Million in Additional Funding in School Budgets, $267 Million in Re-engagement and  Academic Supports to Address Pandemic-Related Impacts; and Provides $672 Million in Equitable Facilities Investments 

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CHICAGO — Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today released its proposed $9.3 billion budget for FY22 that promotes equity and prioritizes resources for the schools and students who need them the most. The district’s budget proposal includes over $225 million in additional funding for school budgets, prioritizes more than $672 million in equitable facility investments throughout the city, and dedicates more than $1 billion in federal ESSER funding in FY22 to provide support for students and schools through the historic Moving Forward Together initiative, as well additional support for schools as they prepare to offer in-person learning five days a week in the fall.   

“As we turn the chapter on COVID-19, it is imperative that we give all of our students the best chance at academic success and recovery from what has undoubtedly been a challenging 16 months,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Through this proposed budget, we will be able to provide our school ecosystem with the tools and resources they need to fully serve students who require the most support.”

Building on years of creating more equitable budgeting practices and engaging communities across the city, equity serves as the foundation for the FY22 budget, which includes targeted investments to prioritize schools in high-needs communities and students who are most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the $66 million in equity grants announced earlier this year, the capital budget released today was developed in partnership with the district’s Equity Office, which continues to utilize public feedback and the Equity Index to inform where resources are most needed. 

“As we prepare to offer in-person learning five days a week in the fall, our top priority is to ensure that schools most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic have the resources they need to fully support students,” said Interim CPS CEO Dr. José M. Torres. “Thanks to support from the federal government, the district is able to undertake the historic engagement, unfinished learning and capital initiatives needed to lay the groundwork for a successful school year.”  


The district is receiving $2.6 billion total for FY21—FY24 in COVID-related emergency federal funding through ESSER II and  ESSER III. The FY22 budget includes $1.06 billion in federal allocations to address students’ needs aligned to the three ESSER priority areas: 1) emerging stronger post-pandemic, with a focus on a safe return to in-person instruction; 2) maintaining continuity of services, including funding staffing and adding additional resources in schools, and 3) resource equity addressing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and communities experiencing poverty. Federal funding includes:

  • $267 million in funding to support year-one investments in the district's two-year, $525 million Moving Forward Together initiative;

  • $132 million to support student re-engagement and school opening costs in the fall, covering one-time costs related to technology, PPE, cleaning supplies, school maintenance, vaccination efforts, and other costs that may arise as CPS transitions back to a full return to school;

  • $100 million to support projects focused on improving air quality by renovating and replacing school mechanical systems;

  • $288 million to support school-based programmatic investments, allowing the district to grow investments in equity grants, special education teachers and paraprofessionals, and the expansion of new academic programs and early childhood classrooms;

  • $178 million to fund school-based instructional positions; and 

  • $95 million to provide a proportionate share of ESSER funding to charter and contract schools.

Budget Supports Daily in-Person Instruction for Students in the Fall and Supports Unprecedented Unfinished Learning Initiative 

CPS will offer daily in-person instruction for all students when the 2021-22 school year begins in August and the FY22 budget includes the resources needed to safely support daily instruction for all students. To prepare, CPS is spending this summer engaging students, providing unprecedented programming opportunities centered on unfinished learning, and supporting schools as they prepare to open. In FY22, through the landmark Moving Forward Together initiative, the district is allocating $267 million, which includes $68 million in flexible school funding, $106 million in targeted student supports for students most in need, and $93 million to engage families and provide other critical academic and instructional supports. 

The district’s Moving Forward Together plan centers on feedback from stakeholders by providing local school communities the flexibility and resources they need to enact a local, responsive plan using $47 million in discretionary funding included in school budgets earlier this year. While all schools received additional resources, Moving Forward Together recognizes the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on priority student groups and the allocation of funds was determined by the Unfinished Learning Index, which identified communities with the most student need by looking at socioeconomic factors, as well as community COVID-19 case rates. 

Moving Forward Together is responsive to critical community feedback received as part of the February 2021 Budget Equity Forums, including: prioritizing resources for communities most negatively impacted and harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes enrollment-related impacts; providing additional funding and support for robust social and emotional learning and mental health supports; and empowering decision-making at the school level to meet the unique needs of school communities.

“We know that our Black and Latinx communities were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why it was critical to develop an index to target support for students who need it the most,” said Interim Chief Education Officer Dr. Maurice Swinney. “As we prepare for the 2021-22 school year, we know it’s more important than ever that we continue to focus on equity and our comprehensive budget places equity at the forefront.” 


The district is spending $672 million in equitable capital investments to ensure schools are ready to welcome students back full-time in the fall by focusing on critical building repairs, modernization efforts, ADA accessibility, IT infrastructure and capital upgrades to support 21st-century learning environments.  

Equity Index and Community Engagement to Prioritize Investments

In recent years, the district has focused on prioritizing investments that promote equitable access to high-quality learning environments, and, earlier this year, the district hosted a series of five community capital meetings to gather feedback on how it should prioritize investments. The CPS Department of Capital Planning and Construction, Office of Equity, and Office of Family and Community Engagement collaborated to hold community engagement meetings on the capital budget which highlighted the capital priorities as outlined in the Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP) and focused on explaining the capital prioritization process that utilizes the latest facility condition assessments and the Equity Index. On average, facility needs such as roof, masonry replacement and mechanical system upgrades were the highest recommended budget category for allocating capital investments, and the district’s capital budget is reflective of that feedback.  

Capital Investments to Support High-Quality Neighborhood Schools

In line with our commitment to equity and our focus on ensuring students are learning in environments that are warm, safe and dry, the district is allocating over $328.6 million in capital funding to address facility needs and interior improvements at over 92 schools throughout the city. These critical projects — which include rebuilding roofs and mechanical infrastructure, stabilizing chimneys, and replacing fire alarms — will help ensure that Chicago’s school buildings remain safe, and provide modern learning environments for students for years to come. The FY22 capital budget addresses the district’s priority renovation projects and most urgent facility needs, including 39 major roof and envelope projects and seven renovations to mechanical systems. 

Additionally, the district is utilizing $100 million in federal funding for significant renovations at 17 campuses, primarily for critical mechanical renovations. CPS has a significant backlog of deferred critical facility needs, including mechanical system needs. These systems control the indoor environment in buildings and operate core mechanical systems for heating and cooling, as well as associated electrical and plumbing infrastructure. 

$20.5 Million Investment to Promote Accessibility as Part of Multi-Year Goal

CPS has committed to investing $100 million over five years (FY21-FY25) in total to promote accessibility as part of a multi-year goal to make the first floor of every CPS school building accessible to people with disabilities. This year, the district will invest $20.5 million to promote ADA accessibility at 33 schools.

$110.5 Million to Support High-Quality Academics and Enrichment

Every student in Chicago deserves access to a high-quality education in a 21st-century learning environment, and to help ensure our students receive the well-rounded education they need, CPS is investing more than $110.5 million to modernize classrooms and facilities throughout the city. These funds are being focused on the following priority areas for our schools:

  • $80 Million for Universal Pre-K Classrooms: To move the district closer to its goal of providing free, full-day Pre-K for all four-year-olds, CPS is allocating $80 million to complete the remaining expansions and classroom conversions for the 2021–22 and 2022–23 school years.

  • $10.5 Million for Modern Spaces for New High-Quality Academic Programs: Earlier this year, CPS announced that 7 schools would receive new high-quality academic programs as part of the district’s annual program application process, in which school communities apply for new high-quality programs including International Baccalaureate (IB), STEM, Fine Arts and Dual Language. The district is investing $10.5 million to support capital improvements in these spaces.  

  • $20 Million for Renovations for Existing Recreation Facilities: The FY22 budget includes a $20 million investment renovations on existing student recreation and athletic facilities.   

$48.4 Technology and Infrastructure Investments for 21st-Century Learning

As technology plays an increasingly important role in the classroom, the district is investing $46.4 million to upgrade school network infrastructure to address equitable connectivity, replace aging hardware at schools, and upgrade the data warehouse and data backups. The district is also investing $2 million in new security equipment including cameras, intercom phones and alarms. 

$37.6 Million in Campus Investments in Playgrounds, Playlots and School Yards

To support the whole child, in FY22, CPS is investing $37.6 million to develop new playgrounds, playlots and site upgrades at more than 30 schools across the city. These investments leverage external funding and will help ensure students can benefit from a well-rounded education that promotes healthy and active development, while providing a resource for each school’s surrounding community.

Additional Funding From External Sources 

In addition to the $672 million in guaranteed spending for capital projects, the FY22 budget includes an additional $35 million of potential funding from external sources. This funding will allow the district to undertake additional projects if additional funding is allocated from city, state, or federal sources.


To promote high-quality instruction throughout the district, as announced in April CPS is investing more than $225 million in additional school budget funding in FY22 and allocating additional funds to promote equity and prioritize the schools that need the greatest levels of support. School budgets for FY22 include a set of additional investments that were informed by the district’s school funding engagement process. These additional investments 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. Key investments in school budgets include:

  • $66 Million in Equity Grants for High-Needs Schools: For the past two years, CPS has allocated additional funding to promote equity and lift up the schools that need our support most. In response to public feedback about the importance of continuously improving resource equity, CPS has significantly increased 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. 

  • $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. 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.  

  • 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, for FY22, the district is budgeting $17 million in additional funds for 78 nurses, 44 social workers and 51 special education case manager positions. 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. At the end of FY21, more than 90 percent of nurse, social worker and case manager positions were staffed. Case manager positions are allocated directly to schools and those funds appear in the school budgets that were released in April. Nurse and social worker positions are budgeted centrally and are included as part of the district’s FY22 operating budget.

  • $30 Million in Additional Funds to Support Special Education Needs, Including Expanding 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. All selective enrollment high schools received at least one additional special education teaching position and one additional case manager position. 


Prior to the development of the district’s FY22 budget proposal, the district held a series of school funding and capital investment meetings to gather feedback from community members, and the district will hold additional meetings prior to consideration by the Board of Education.  

All budget hearings will be conducted virtually this year. The district will be holding three capital hearings and two budget hearings at the following dates and times:

Budget Hearings:

  • Tuesday, July 20, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

  • Wednesday, July 21, 4:00- 6:00 p.m.

Capital Hearings:

  • Wednesday, July 21, 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.

  • Thursday, July 22, 2:30 - 4:30 p.m.

  • Friday, July 23, 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.

Information for families and stakeholders about how to join meetings will be shared through district communications and on social media. The final budget is expected to be presented to the Board for a vote at its July meeting, which is scheduled for Wednesday, July 28, 2021. To view the full proposed FY22 budget, please visit