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For the Record: CPS budget favors special programs, charters

If a budget is a document that shows an organization’s priorities and direction, the CPS budget released last week reveals in stark black-and-white the undercurrent of much of the discussion so far: District officials are directing resources—and students—to magnet, specialty, selective and charter schools. An interactive map (below) created by WBEZ/Chicago Public Media and Catalyst Chicago showsthe school-level impact of the budget.

The number of teacher positions allocated to schools for magnet, selective enrollment and other programs increased by 615. The number of regular classroom teachers, allocated based on student enrollment, decreased by 515 positions.  

Some of the increase is due to a smattering of new special programs at former neighborhood schools, such as Chicago Vocational, which now will have a focus on science and technology, and South Shore High School, which will become a selective school.

In line with the district’s charter compact, charter schools are in line to get more money:  87 percent of charters will get more per-pupil funding, compared to just 30 percent of traditional public schools.At the same time, thousands more students are projected to enroll in charter schools, with the latest projections putting the number at 6,500 new students, substantially more than the 4,665 that district officials previously estimated.

The enrollment surge means that next year, 13 percent of all CPS students will be in charter schools.

CPS officials have touted the move to target more money to charters as an increased investment in “quality options.” However, teachers who attended budget hearings this week sharply criticized the decision, pointing out that not all charter schools are high-performing.

View Mapping
the CPS Budget - "choice" schools
in a full screen map


View Mapping
the CPS Budget - "traditional" schools
in a full screen map

At traditional schools, some of the loss in teacher positions was balanced by the fact that principals were given about $130 million more to spend in discretionary money. But even so, sometimes the gains were wiped out: Some schools got additional discretionary dollars, but lost money in other areas and ended up with a net loss.

CPS officials said principals are planning to hire 276 teachers with the discretionary money, 60 percent of whom will be regular classroom teachers in reading, math, science and other subjects. Another 54 will be art or music teachers and another 13 are gym teachers. The rest of the positions were spread among bilingual teachers, special education teachers, assistant principals and counselors.

Neighborhood schools that are losing students faced more pressure to use the money to fill gaps, and were the most likely to hire teachers to make up for losing board-funded positions, the analysis shows.

One principal whose school experienced a small decline in enrollment was surprised to see that the published budget information showed her school as having more positions. “If you look at my core allocation, that is not true,” says the principal, who didn’t want to be identified. However, she used $250,000 of her discretionary money to hire teachers, in part to help manage the new CPS requirement that all elementary students get a 20-minute recess.

The principal, whose Southwest Side school has more than 1,200 students, says she didn’t feel comfortable having parents or college students responsible for playground duty. She wanted to have her classroom teachers oversee recess, and they agreed, as long as they got paid.

“What if a child falls down and hits their head? A parent is not liable for that,” she says. But CPS officials said no to her solution, so she hired additional art, music and gym teachers who were also willing to monitor recess. Spending so much money on teachers left her little to spend on extras such as supplies, textbooks and technology.

Other schools used their discretionary money to buy equipment or technology to bolster programs.  Spencer Technology Academy, for example, plans to create a virtual gym, buying Nintendo Wiis and X-Boxes so students can play sports that might not be available in their Austin neighborhood, such as tennis, bowling and baseball. The principal at Von Linne on the North Side decided to buy a kiln, among other things, according to CPS.

Other details from an analysis by Catalyst Chicago and WBEZ/Chicago Public Media:

  • Schools on the South and West sides were hit the hardest by budget cuts. Schools in those areas are the most likely to have declining student enrollment and thus lose teaching positions.
  • Traditional neighborhood schools and non-selective magnet schools lost a total of $117.5 million and 172 positions. Neighborhood high schools were the hardest hit, because of low enrollment projections and other program cuts.
  • 136 schools lost money overall, but ended up with more staff as a result of the decision to shift money into the discretionary pot. Principals gain flexibility, but have said they feel hamstrung to rehire teachers and keep programs intact. In turn, teachers say principals are pushed to hire less-experienced staff because they earn less.
  • 128 traditional schools saw increases in both overall budget and staff.
  • Traditional CPS schools will lose 296 positions and $121 million in this budget.
  • The district's 11 selective enrollment high schools will lose $1.8 million but have 52 more positions, in part because CPS is transforming South Shore International High School to a selective school.
master.xls184.5 KB


Anonymous wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

This is great

Thank you for taking the time to breakdown the budget - really helpful for us lay people who can't dig through all the numbers.

The under-enrollment piece is fascinating and begs the question....why don't we consolidate some of these under-enrolled schools so there is a fully resourced school that doesn't have to face declining budgets? I'm not a budget expert, but given these budgets are mostly based on the # of students in the building then having a school that has the optimum amount of students would allow for the school to hire art teachers, music, PE, language, etc. That seems to me like a very sensible way to do things instead of having half empty schools that aren't given enough money to operate to the highest level.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Why not? It's political. Canter should be closed. Who will

stand up to Obama's Kenwood or U of Chicago?

Anonymous wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

What is sad is that LSCs let Mr. Cawley wack them as they ask

for yet another budget hit. (Thank you sir, may we have another?)
LSCs do NOT know the power they have; that pleases Rahm.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Thank you Catalyst and Sarah Karp- as one of the number of

southside schools employees who works at a school facing this dilemma and these cuts--thank you for sharing this and getting the facts out!

Anonymous wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Individual preliminary school/student ISAT scores are posted on

Dashboard reports section today. Of course they didn't let anyone know until late afternoon after most had left work!
FYI, my "just a neighborhood school" in a crummy neighborhood without a longer day or extra money did great! Take that Emmanuel!

Anonymous wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

The map above is extremely

The map above is extremely inaccurate as far as enrollment numbers go. My school is projected to to have 299 students and we are going to have about 450. Many schools' enrollments appeared very inaccurate and not sure where those numbers came from.

Amdq wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago


Enrollment at my school is off by over 200 children. I'm very concerned as to where these numbers came from!

Sarah Karp wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

enrollment numbers

We got the enrollment numbers from CPS. Please say which schools seem off so I can look into what happen and see if it is a CPS mistake or a data entering mistake. Thank you.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Under Enrollment

That's CPS's Old Trick. Every year they project less than the number of students that the neighborhood schools themselves know are enrolled already - especially on the North and Northwest so that they can manage the size of the budget gap. When the number of students the schools know will show up actually show up - SURPRISE!!! The schools have to wait until OCt. to get the funds they knew that they needed in June to staff properly. One of the biggest headaches that the neighborhood schools have that the selective enrollment schools do not have - they get to determine their max enrollment in the spring and CPS actually uses their numbers for planning purposes.

If in Sept. students had to go to where they were enrolled on the last day of class in June and the neighborhood school enrollments were capped - then there would be more equity and reality in the funding projections.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Inaccurate data on school budgets

The data are inaccurate in many cases-- e.g., Skinner North and Skinner West are transposed. Also, Board-funded is misleading-- e.g., the Board's funding of full-day Kindergarten is not the same as the Board funding an extra music or technology position beyond quota.

Andrew wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago


Do you have any idea how much of the differences in the budget is due to differences in enrollment? In other words, is the position allocation for charters/magnets the same per pupil than it is for traditional schools? Also, is the amount that traditional schools and charters get for per pupil spending the same?

Anonymous wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

charter positions

the fy13 budget doesn't show position counts for charter schools

Anonymous wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

position cut

Maybe they should cut board positions and buy a rubber stamp at kinkos for 15.99 that says. " rahms way or the highway"

Anon wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

John h Kinzie enrollment 619

John h Kinzie enrollment 619 k through 8. Add 40 more for PreK and 10 for ECSE am and 10 for pm.

Enrollment Numbers wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

WBEZ/Catalyst enrollment data

The enrollment data appear incorrect.

Below is what you list for STEM Magnet School where you report the enrollment going from 17 to 11 for a school with 22 to 32 positions. Obviously the enrollment is wrong. That's more staff than children.
The CPS budget shows an enrollment of 225 to 278.

Do the additional 53 children required 10 more positions?
The budget shows the school getting 2.5 more teachers and 8 more Education Support Personnel.

Perhaps I've overlooked this piece of information but do the FY12 Budgeted positions in this budget report reflect the adopted budget or the ending (actual expenditures/positions) FY12 budget?

Catalyst/WBEZ Map:
STEM Magnet School
1522 W. Fillmore
Chicago, IL 60607 Zoom
School Type: elementary / magnet
FY 2012 Ending Budget : $2,687,224.00
FY 2013 Proposed Budget : $2,504,913.00
Budget Difference : $(182,311.00)
Category : budget decrease
FY 2012 Budgeted Positions: 22.0
FY 2013 Proposed Positions: 32.5
Positions Difference: 10.50
Staffing?: positions gained
FY12 20th Day Enrollment: 17
FY 13 Projected Enrollment: 11
Enrollment projection?: down

Anonymous wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

CPS says Kinzie's enrollment

CPS says Kinzie's enrollment FY12 643 FY13 635
WBEZ/Catalyst: 445; 437

John H Kinzie Elementary School
5625 S Mobile Ave
Chicago, IL 60638 3459 Zoom
School Type: elementary
FY 2012 Ending Budget : $7,490,702.63
FY 2013 Proposed Budget : $7,396,328.00
Budget Difference : $(94,374.63)
Category : budget decrease
FY 2012 Budgeted Positions: 85.5
FY 2013 Proposed Positions: 87.0
Positions Difference: 1.50
Staffing?: positions gained
FY12 20th Day Enrollment: 445
FY 13 Projected Enrollment: 437
Enrollment projection?: down

In February there were 1409 distinct position numbers that were vacant.
In June there were 1517 position numbers that were vacant.
Not filling vacant positions is, of course, a way to save money.
In city government, it's a common practice to make cuts by just not filling vacancies, then eliminating vacant positions.
I wonder how many of the lost positions were vacant for 9 months, 6 months or so.
One of the reasons given for the fund balance was that the district underspent in FY12.
CPS administrators said they CPS cannot let the children wait and should spend all available monies on children, now.
OK. But by the same token, why did CPS underspend in FY12?
Didn't children have unmet needs to spend money on during FY12, too?

Sarah Karp wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

look at the master file

Sorry about the mistakes. The master file, which is attached in Excel format, is information painstakingly copied and pasted from the website. It also includes the breakdown of teacher positions and how they are funded, which is interesting. I must admit someone else created the map based on information CPS and I provided and I am not sure why it is wrong. I will have them look at the problem on Monday.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I’m not surprised by your reaction, would Cawley said.

We’ve closed your schools, laughed at your FOIA requests, stolen millions of dollars, lied to you, lied to the public, lied to the media, paid protesters to denounce you, bribed Chicago clergy, fired veteran teachers and replaced them cardboard cutouts, destroyed opportunities for your children, dismantled your communities, waged negative add campaigns to tarnish reputations, called your concerns ‘noise’, and plan to continue stealing millions with the unveiling of this fictitious budget. I promise I won’t shout at you when we throw you on the street where you can beg for pennies and sell lose cigarettes. I hope you will extend me the same courtesy as I count my millions, nestled in my huge and luxurious north suburban Winnetka home and dream up new schemes for screwing children, teachers and taxpayers of Chicago.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago


Is he still on a "waiver"????

Rod Estvan wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

re: charter school positions

No CPS budget has ever provided a full position count for charter schools. Since these teachers are not directly CPS employees CPS has attempted to present this information and as far as I know CPS does not require charters to provide it with position counts. There is a lot of information on actual payments to charters located in the files in the interactive site under programs. You have to click instructional and manually search for the titles relating to charters.

It is very slow going using this new CPS data system, I have so many different special ed programs to look at it is just overwhelming right now, I am sure within a few days I will have it under control.

Rod Estvan

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