The historic closing of 49 elementary schools in Chicago left many parents bitter and feeling left out as they try to get involved in new schools. Yet parent engagement is essential for school improvement, and principals are faced with the challenge of building trust at schools that scored poorly on surveys of parent involvement.
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Winners and losers in CPS budget
CPS leadership is proposing a budget that does not include massive layoffs, but that doesn’t mean that some schools aren’t losing teachers and other staff.
This year, for the first time, CPS posted a searchable database that shows school-level and unit-level information on budgets and positions. These numbers show how staffing ebbs and flows among schools.
Altogether, CPS schools will see a net loss of 182 positions, but 1200 positions closed at 270 schools, largely because of declining enrollment at their schools, while 282 other schools will look to fill about 1000 new positions.
Neighborhood high schools continue to be hit hard by plummeting enrollment, due mostly to more choices being available for students. In fact the number of high school students has gone up slightly over the past five years, but the share of them in charter schools has also risen.
The result: Of the district’s 106 traditional high schools, 49 of them lost at least one position and, of those that lost positions, the average number was 11. Even when a neighborhood high school is closed or phased out, CPS officials don’t seem to expect the staff to grow much at the “receiving” school. For example, though Crane High is closing, Wells High School, which is slated to enroll students from Crane’s neighborhood, will get only one more position next year.
About 36 percent of elementary schools will lose at least half of a position. Some of the loss is due to CPS adjusting its magnet and magnet cluster program positions so that they are based on enrollment instead of a standard allocation.
But the elementary schools that are losing a substantial number of positions are mainly small schools that serve student populations that are more than 90 percent black. Like high schools, many of those elementary schools are experiencing drops in enrollment, mostly due population shifts and new charter schools.
The CPS data also show budget and position changes in central and citywide offices, but because this is a new administration with new organization and departments, it is difficult to get a clear picture of those moves. One big shift is that engineers are being moved from school-level budgets into a citywide office.
Once that is accounted for, there are about 200 fewer positions in central and citywide offices. The biggest loss of staff is in the citywide education department, which will be down about 100 positions. The citywide education department had a variety of staff, including literacy interventionists.
Some of the reductions come because the district is eliminating entire departments. Yet their responsibilities are often moved to other departments that are getting more staff. For example, the Office of Academic Enhancement, which managed the magnet and selective enrollment admissions process, will be closed down, and 23 positions will be lost. So too will the Office of School Improvement, which had five positions.
However, the Portfolio Office, which will run turnarounds and the selective school admissions process, will get an additional 26 positions.
The position files in Excel can be found here: