Budget Analysis

February 1, 2005

Chicago Public Schools has only begun to push for per-pupil budgeting, a system that could more equitably distribute funds to schools and give principals more control over how those funds are spent, and some already are pushing back. Concerns center on whether schools would get more or less money under the new system. "We've looked at this from every angle, and no one wants it," says one principal.

Table of Contents

Some more equal than others

John Myers

From the perspective of student-based budgeting, schools with the fewest poor students and schools with selective enrollments have padded budgets. At the other end of the funding scale, large and overcrowded schools, many of which are mostly Latino, are likely to be shortchanged.

These are among the findings of a Catalyst Chicago analysis of school-level budget and enrollment data. The analysis used a data-based tool developed by researchers to identify inequity among schools in a district.

Using this tool, one in four schools (27 percent) was found to be receiving...

Special education tough to dissect

John Myers

When determining per-pupil figures for Renaissance and charter schools, CPS hit a snag. How would it come up with a fair rate for special education students?

Special education poses the stiffest challenge to per-pupil funding. With a wide range of disabilities and with multiple funding sources, it defies easy calculation.

"Special ed is tough," says Pedro Martinez, the new budget director for CPS. "Right now, we're just starting to dissect that."

In all, the district spends about $750 million a year on 60,000 special education students. There are dozens of...

Seattle, Oakland ensure funding follows students

Elizabeth Duffrin

This fall, a shrinking districtwide budget put the squeeze yet again on tiny Wing Luke Elementary, a low-income school in a racially diverse neighborhood. But a flexible budgeting system that Seattle Public Schools adopted seven years ago made it possible for Principal Ellen Punyon to hire an extra classroom teacher and keep her after-school program intact.

In 1997, Seattle became the first urban district in the country to do away with its staffing formula, which assigned teachers and other personnel to schools based on enrollment. (Here in Chicago, for instance, schools get one...

Assessing Inequities in School Funding within Chicago Public Schools

John Myers

Research Rationale

Ten years ago, three nonprofit organizations were analyzing the Chicago Public Schools' budget from varying perspectives. Today, there is only one, the Civic Federation, whose main concern is efficiency and keeping taxes down. Meanwhile, equity of funding within school districts has grown as an issue, in part because of the new push for school accountability.

It is against this backdrop that Catalyst Chicago decided to get into the budget analysis business. As a publication whose mission is to shed light on the policies and practices that help...

equity

CPS eyes budget equity

John Myers

This September, Little Village will open the doors to four new high schools that the community, for the first time, can call its own. A grandmothers' hunger strike in 2001 forced Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to reconsider the educational needs of this largely Mexican community on the city's West Side.

Since then, a $63 million facility is being built to suit, and educators and organizers from the community have had their say over every detail related to the school, from curriculum to interior design (they call it earth, wind, water, fire) to a handpicked staff.

However, a...

More than $1 billion of the district's $4 billion operating budget is allocated to "citywide services," a catch-all pot of money that makes it difficult to track where the money is spent.

Roughly $200 million of this pot comes from state and federal grants that are distributed to schools at the discretion of the CPS leadership. These grants pay for educational programs, such as the reading initiative and the math and science initiative.

More than $1 billion of the district's $4 billion operating budget is allocated to "citywide services," a catch-all pot of money that makes it difficult to track where the money is spent. Roughly $...
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When it comes to financial equity among the city's public schools, the numbers speak for themselves. A Catalyst Chicago investigation into how the district distributed its funds to schools in the fiscal 2005 budget found 27 percent getting more than a fair share, and 19 percent getting less.

When it comes to financial equity among the city's public schools, the numbers speak for themselves. A Catalyst Chicago investigation into how the district distributed its funds to schools in the...
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John, a 20-year-old special education student, is still struggling to earn his diploma. In and out of five high schools since 1999, John has racked up multiple suspensions, one expulsion, four arrests for school-related offenses and a conviction for misdemeanor battery as a result of the fight for which he was expelled. Now he faces a possible second expulsion for alleged sexual harassment of a female student. Though John skips school frequently, unlike many of his peers he has not dropped out, and says he is determined to graduate. (John's name has been changed for reasons of privacy.)

John, a 20-year-old special education student, is still struggling to earn his diploma. In and out of five high schools since 1999, John has racked up multiple suspensions, one expulsion, four...
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Excitement about books is the norm at Norwood Park Elementary on the far northwest side. Here, students often bring a tower of books to librarian Nancy Volkman, who reaches over to feel the child's muscles and asks if the student can carry them before checking the books out. Many schools tie the number of books students can check out to their grade level, but Volkman rarely imposes such a ceiling.

Excitement about books is the norm at Norwood Park Elementary on the far northwest side. Here, students often bring a tower of books to librarian Nancy Volkman, who reaches over to feel the child's...
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CPS targets schools to do more to achieve a racial mix of teachers.

When Warren Elementary, a predominantly African American school in Calumet Heights, needed to fill three vacant teaching positions this year, Principal Christine Ogilvie specifically sought out and hired white candidates.

On the other side of town in West Ridge, Principal June Shackter of mostly white Decatur Elementary plans to hire two teachers in February—both of them minorities.

CPS targets schools to do more to achieve a racial mix of teachers. When Warren Elementary, a predominantly African American school in Calumet Heights, needed to fill three vacant teaching positions...
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Renaissance 2010, Mayor Richard M. Daley's signature effort to turn around failing schools, has kicked into gear amid leadership turnover both inside and outside the school system.

John Ayers, who as executive director of Leadership for Quality Education (LQE) was a leader in charter school law and development, tendered his resignation in December. Greg Richmond, who spearheaded charter school development inside the system, resigned in early February.

Multiple sources say both decided to quit after they saw significant parts of their portfolios moved elsewhere.

Renaissance 2010, Mayor Richard M. Daley's signature effort to turn around failing schools, has kicked into gear amid leadership turnover both inside and outside the school system. John Ayers, who as...
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By: Catalyst

Florida: Middle schools

Gov. Jeb Bush wants to require middle school students to earn credits in core subjects before moving on to high school, according to the Jan. 11 Palm Beach Post. Bush's proposal was sparked by middle-schoolers' poor performance on state achievement tests last year, when only half of 6th- through 8th-graders scored at grade level. Students would need three credits each in math, science, social studies and language arts to graduate to 9th grade. Middle schools would have to use the same standardized grading system as high schools.

Florida: Middle schools Gov. Jeb Bush wants to require middle school students to earn credits in core subjects before moving on to high school, according to the Jan. 11 Palm Beach Post. Bush's...
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Children with behavioral and emotional disorders can pose significant discipline problems for schools. But these students can become self-disciplined if they are taught the right decision-making and problem-solving skills, says Shari Demitrowicz, principal of Lawrence Hall Youth Services Therapeutic Day School. The school serves some of the most troubled special education students who have been referred from Chicago Public Schools. Demitrowicz talked with writer Alejandra Cerna Rios.

How do you teach troubled young people to manage their behavior?

Children with behavioral and emotional disorders can pose significant discipline problems for schools. But these students can become self-disciplined if they are taught the right decision-making and...
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Could you run a business without controlling your budget? Thousands of public school principals face this dilemma every day. Imagine you are a high school principal. You are lauded as the CEO of your building, yet whenever you want to spend more than $400 on materials or equipment, you need two approvals from central office. Or perhaps you want to hire a reading teacher but you can't because the "system" only allows reading teacher positions in elementary schools.

Could you run a business without controlling your budget? Thousands of public school principals face this dilemma every day. Imagine you are a high school principal. You are lauded as the CEO of your...
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By: Catalyst

MOVING IN/ON The creation of New Schools for Chicago by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago has prompted several personnel changes. New Schools for Chicago is the organization that will raise private funds for Renaissance 2010 schools and oversee distribution of private funds to Renaissance 2010 schools. Phyllis Lockett Martin, executive director of the Civic Committee's Financial Research and Advisory Committee (FRAC), has become executive director of New Schools for Chicago.

MOVING IN/ON The creation of New Schools for Chicago by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago has prompted several personnel changes. New Schools for Chicago is the...
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Este septiembre, La Villita abrirá las puertas a cuatro nuevas secundarias en la comunidad que por primera vez podrán llamar suyas. La huelga de hambre de una abuela en el 2001 forzó a las Escuelas Públicas de Chicago (CPS) a reconsiderar sus necesidades educacionales en esta comunidad mayormente mexicana en el oeste de la ciudad.

Este septiembre, La Villita abrirá las puertas a cuatro nuevas secundarias en la comunidad que por primera vez podrán llamar suyas. La huelga de hambre de una abuela en el 2001 forzó a las Escuelas...
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Desde la perspectiva del presupuesto estudiantil, las escuelas con menos estudiantes pobres y las escuelas con matrícula selectiva tienen presupuestos acolchados. Al otro extremo de la escala de financiamiento, es más probable que las escuelas grandes y sobrepobladas, muchas de las cuales son Latinas, reciban menos.

Desde la perspectiva del presupuesto estudiantil, las escuelas con menos estudiantes pobres y las escuelas con matrĂ­cula selectiva tienen presupuestos acolchados. Al otro extremo de la escala de...
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The budgeting system used by Edmonton Public Schools in Alberta, Canada, is the model for similar per-pupil funding efforts in the United States.

First to launch such budgeting reforms, Edmonton has gone further than any district in turning budgetary power over to its 203 local schools. Ten years ago, the multi-ethnic urban district gradually shifted funds for many central office departments into schools' budgets and gave principals the option of buying back those services. Central office departments that didn't offer products or services that customers wanted faced cutbacks.

The budgeting system used by Edmonton Public Schools in Alberta, Canada, is the model for similar per-pupil funding efforts in the United States. First to launch such budgeting reforms, Edmonton has...
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To analyze the equity of funding among Chicago's public schools, Catalyst adapted an online tool created by researchers affiliated with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University.

Through research, the Annenberg initiative had determined that most districts do not distribute funds equitably among schools, and are unaware of those inequities because of complex funding formulas and accounting practices that make them difficult to assess.

To analyze the equity of funding among Chicago's public schools, Catalyst adapted an online tool created by researchers affiliated with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown...
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