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Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

For the record: Winners and losers in CPS budget

In June, as principals and parents got a look at their school budgets, the complaints began flowing. Many said they were seeing budget cuts that were substantially larger than any they had seen before, and schools began publicly releasing information about the cuts as part of their strategy to fight them.

CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll insisted that there were “winners and losers” in the school budgets. Yet, even after releasing detailed budgets in mid-July, officials have yet to summarize which schools did well and which ones lost out.

Catalyst Chicago analyzed the school budgets, which include money for instruction, support services and community services. The finding: 70 percent of district-run schools lost $100,000 or more (not including the 49 schools that were closed this year), while 14 percent of charter schools had their budgets slashed by more than $100,000.

Some of the scenario can be attributed to enrollment projections that estimate more charter schools will gain students. But district-run schools are not projected to lose significant enrollment--instead, their budgets were affected by overall cuts imposed in order to help the district balance its budget.

Also this year, CPS began allocating money in a lump sum to schools, based on a perpupil formula, rather than providing a teacher for roughly every 30 students. Officials say per-pupil funding is more equitable. But it has also meant a loss of extra teachers at some schools.  Veteran, more expensive teachers whose salaries schools can no longer afford, are especially vulnerable.

Neighborhood high schools also bore the brunt of cuts, especially the four high schools that lost millions as their federal School Improvement Grant funds ran out. But other neighborhood high schools also suffered: 90 percent of 65 neighborhood high schools had their budgets cut by more than $100,000.


Note about graphic: Charter school budgets include money for facilities, teacher pensions and other costs that budgets for traditional schools do not. It is unclear how much are in charter school budgets for these costs. Also, alternative schools, which serve dropouts and students who have been expelled, are mostly run by private entities, either as charters or by private organizations. Also, neighborhood schools only include those schools that were open in 2013 and will be open in 2014.


budget graphic

sch_budgets_for_posting.xls164.5 KB


City Parent wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Sick of very low poverty schools getting extrta $$ for teacher

while our high poverty neighborhood schools get cuts--yes you in tthe RockIsland network got extra postions while we here at high poverty high minority schools cut postions and over crowd our classrooms more. Yes, CPS has been making us cannabalize each other, but now they are killing the neighborhood schools. Where is Obama and Feds on this civil rights violation?

Chicago An wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Neighborhood High Schools

A cynical person might believe the district-run high schools are being set up to fail through these drastic cuts. Prelude to high school closings next year.

northside wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago


Obama hates union teachers....that I am sure

Former Teacher wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Plan B

Plan B isn't just for contraception. It's a concept that can be used for many areas in life. Improve one's education, one's skills, get and use a gym membership (yes, physical health is a factor), then tell them where they can put it, and do what you need to do, and oh yes, make sure you smile while you give them directions a warmer climate.

Booklover wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

to "to northside"

Mr. Emanuel would never do anything without a directive from Mr. Obama, esp. in Chicago, the city to which Obama will return when he ends his term to take up arms in the fight for charter schools. Our President is anti-teacher, anti-union and anti-neighborhood schools. Privatizing public schools is in the best interests of business owners and politicians...not students, parents or teachers.

midwestern man wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

re: Chicago An

I think the amount of money Bowen, Boan, Raby and Clemente lost from the closing of their federal grants was pretty large. It might have skewed the mean. That said, it is a huge discrepancy, no doubt.

Judy King wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Budget Transparency

It's not clear that school groupings – charters versus regulars– have comparable proportions of large and small schools which could also skew the group proportions of “losers and winners” (70% vs 14%).

"Officials say per-pupil funding is more equitable. But it has also meant a loss of… veteran, more expensive teachers..."

Is there current evidence that more expensive teachers have been laid off as a result of student based budgeting?

“Charter school budgets include money for facilities, teacher pensions and other costs that budgets for traditional schools do not.”

Is this a comparison between apples and pears? If charter school budget allocations include costs that regular schools do not, how do we make sense out of Ms. Karp's school group/type comparisons?

Regular school budgets * do * include teacher pension costs. You can find these amounts in the CPS Interactive Reports School List under Detailed Report, Account Group, Benefits.

If I'm reading the CPS budget document correctly, about $16M in pension cost allocated to charter schools will be returned by charter organizations to the district.

Whether it’s Catalyst, other press, the CTU, CPS, or Raise Your Hand, it’s difficult to determine to what extent differences in each organization’s budget analyses stems from differences in the reference budget.

In its budget hearing presentation CPS compares its $5.1B FY13 expenditures (“2013 Proj”or as of 6/30/2013) with the $5.6B FY14 proposed budget to emphasize the FY13 under-spend. But the online school list highlights the difference between the FY13 Ending Budget and the FY14 Proposed Budget. On some Interactive Reports pages CPS compares FY13 Budgeted Positions with proposed FY14 positions and on other pages it shows FY13 Ending Positions, too.

York HS has a FY13 Amended Budget of $7,433,263, Ending Budget of $6,413,878, and Expenditures (as of 6/30/13) of $6,402,257. York, depending upon the budget of reference, has either lost about $850K or gained $170K or $181K in FY14.

LINC Alternative’s budget skewed the results for the 7 alternative schools. LINC’s enrollment is projected to increase from 634 to 2075 along with a budget change from $5,296,254 to $18,850,046 -- about $9,084, overall, per pupil.

Some overall high school per pupil budget allocations [where per pupil$ = FY14 Proposed Budget divided by FY14 projected enrollment]:
Lane Tech $6,844
Von Steuben $7,981
Hyde Park $9,057
Uplift $10,145
Shabazz Charter $10,102
North Lawndale Charter $10,687
Clemente $11,167
Jefferson $29,960 (with a decrease in teachers from 50.0 to 44.0)
Wells $12,148
Dyett $19,585
Ray Graham Training Center $36,343

The loss of school level funding is surely significant but aggregate assessments of winners and losers, by definition, do not tell the particular stories. North Lawndale Charter lost $1,365,766.

Despite a relatively high overall per-pupil budget, Dyett students are still being shortchanged with limited curricula offerings.

apreciative for good reporting wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

thank you catalyst for reporting this

...and for posting this spreadsheet. This is the type of information that we community members and parents need to see and ask tough questions about. In particular the disparities between northside schools and schools in traditionally under resourced areas (e.g. Prescott, 33 more students and +82K vs. Deneen, 35 more students and -49K) is a concern. I don't know what the status of the teachers in either school might be, but I would guess Prescott can recruit more experienced (and therefore more $) staff then Deneen so it's counter to what I would hope the "winners" "losers" picture might be. I also think that the schools on the northside might be better able to recruit more extra $$$ through fund raising and fees. Would love catalyst to try to figure out what these additional funds do to the disparities. (CPS budget + local school raised funds = the real school budgets). Same for charters and private donors.

City Parent wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Close the networks now and get some of that $20 million back

Our schools are suffering, parents are angry. I am spaeking to many who are looking to move out asap. Stop this waste BBB--stop it now.

Observer wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

What makes you think BBB can do anything about this?

What power she has is temporary, limited and supplied by the mayor. She will complete her task and be on her way. (And do well for it)
One does wonder what CPS was up to when they approved this $20million debacle.

skarp wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Judy King

You were right to point out that we do not know conclusively whether per pupil budgeting has meant a loss of veteran teachers. I meant to write that per pupil budgeting makes more veteran teachers vulnerable. I made the change in the story.

Observer wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

loss of veteran teachers? Well yes, but proof will come

perpupil also means a lack of funds for principals to hire more expensive teachers. That will prove out too.

urbanteach wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

What's the argument?

Talk to your principals concerning the budget and how previously positions paid and accounted for by the board were reserved for higher cost educators. Let's not define the challenge only by vets either. Higher cost is the result of higher education (lanes). So the losses may not be determined but ask a parent if their school building should barter between veteran or highly educated teachers or basic supplies. Quality principals will do the budget dance to retain quality teachers and vets but it will be at a cost. SHAME!

Observer wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

with perpupil budgeting should teachers NOT get an advanced

degree or take any courses that count toward betterment of theirteaching--or take them, but never tell CPS. Not put this on the resume?

Valerie F. Leonard wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago


I thank Catalyst and Sarah Karp for this story, and access to your data set. This information will help our advocacy efforts tremendously. This information will give us the ammo we need to advocate for more resources.

Bill Colson wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

Reply to "Obama"

I doubt that Obama hates unions. However, he is naive when it comes to education policy, and like his friend Rahm and most other politicians, he has bought into the corporate-style reform model. His Education Secretary is still Arnie Duncan, remember, even though all of his programs in Chicago eventually turned out to be failures after he went to Washington. My God, even George W had gotten rid of Rod Paige by his second term!

Joan Staples wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I don't think President Obama

I don't think President Obama is anti-union either, but I agree that the Washington policies are wrong, wrong, wrong. Even when Obama was a State Senator, I don't think he spent as much time on Education matters. I recall writing to him about the schools at that time. As pointed out, he is also relying on Arne, who was Daley's choice for CEO under the corporate model. Arne may be well-meaning, but his connection with education is through his mother, who was a teacher. Mr. Duncan, I believe, was appointed primarily because he was a friend of Obama's. Even the New York Times seems to subscribe to the corporate model of reform.

A reader hungry for real analysis wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

Sloppy Analysis

This is a terribly sloppy analysis, Catalyst. First, your lead about the number of schools who lost more than $100,000 does not take school population into account. A $100,000 cut affects a school of 300 students far more than it does a school of 3,000 students. Doing a per-pupil (not per-teacher) spending analysis is the surest way to understand the impact of funding cuts, which you do (sloppily) and bury later in the story. Your staff is clearly looking to either be slanted/deceitful with your lead or is just terribly sloppy in the reporting here.

Later, you cite that " it has also meant a loss of extra teachers at some schools." No data. No schools named. No numbers.

Your readers who have commented with indignant rage are clearly coming here for cannon-fodder for their ideological arguments. Happy consumers of work like this who don't want to take the time for critical thought.

Come on, Sarah Karp. This is far from "award-winning journalism." Don't act like you're doing the people who care about education in Chicago a service with articles like this. Get to the bottom of these cuts. Analyze the impact on students. Include occupancy and pension costs. Interview veteran teachers who have been laid off. Give us something substantive, please.

Joan Staples wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

For information that is

For information that is accurate about the structure of the CPS Pension Fund and why it has been underfunded and is, in fact, not the cause of the public schools' financial problems, see the article by Kevin Huber of the Pension Fund. The CPS Fund is not the same as the state funds or the pension funds for other public workers. The Legislature purposely gave CPS a "holiday" from its obligations and restructured the fund so that property taxes don't go to it directly, as they did for over 70 years. In addition, of course, is the diversion of more property taxes that belong to the schools that have gone to the TIFs.

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