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.