The Chicago Public School budget, explained

On Monday, the Chicago Public Schools released their budget for the 2017-2018 school year. But like all budgets, it can be a bit hard to parse, even as CPS released a breakdown of what each school would receive in the coming year. So in the interest of clearing up some confusion, here’s the budget for the upcoming school year, explained.

CPS uses a student-based funding mechanism

Chicago Public Schools partake in an initiative that allocates a certain amount of money per student. As the Chicago Sun-Times reports, that amount changes based on the student’s grade level. There was a small victory this year, with each student receiving an additional $200 in funding according to DNAinfo. In theory, this approach should ensure that every student is having their needs met, but as you will see below, it’s not that cut and dry.

Enrollment is down and, therefore, so is the budget

This year’s budget is expected to be down two percent, which sounds small until it’s actually broken down: A two percent decline in funding amounts to a decrease of $43 million this year over last. As mentioned above, this is due to the student-based funding approach and there being a projected decrease in enrollment by 8,000 students. This is an improvement over last year’s decrease of 11,000 students, but this consistent slide is troubling not just for the budget, but for the fact that it inevitably leads to layoffs and school closures throughout the city. We won’t know an official count on enrollment until the 20th day of the school year—as is customary—but these projections have been accurate more often than not.

Each school’s budget is now publicly available

For curious parties, the entire budget is now available to be perused, with each school’s change in funding reported.  Overall, 330 schools will see an increase, with 300 seeing their funding slashed. Of them, Chicago Technology Academy—which took part in the first ever Ideas Day this year—will be seeing a 14-percent decrease this coming year. A viewable version of the per-school breakdown can be accessed via the Sun-Times.

Special education funding is now separate

Last year, the budget blended special and general education funding, which caused quite an uproar. In response to that, this year’s budget once again splits them, allowing more money to be allocated for children with diverse learning needs. It’s hard to know what exactly that boils down to—as it’s not been fully reported how it differs from the general education budget—but it’s an improvement over last year’s funds being commingled.

The budget might be vetoed

Currently, this budget is contingent on an additional $300 million being allocated to CPS. That said, Governor Bruce Rauner has been incredibly vocal that he would veto such an initiative. The budget has passed the House and Senate, but not being veto-proof means that this is all subject to change.

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