For the second year, Chicago Public Schools says it will not take back any of its money from schools where student projections came up short following a count on the 10th day of school.
Federal money for poor children and state funding still will depend on each schools’ count on the 20th day of enrollment, which is Monday. That’s also when the entire district’s official count, including charter and contract schools, will be finalized, said CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey.
CPS-run schools were projected in the 2015 budget to have about 334,000 kids in pre-K through 12th grade. They had about 309,000 asof the 10th day of classes – when only kindergarten through 12th grade numbers were available, McCaffrey said, adding that 288 of the 504 district-operated schools lost enrollment.
The district will use $24.6 million — $12.5 million of which comes from a fund in case total enrollment exceeded projections, and the rest new money from a tax-increment financing surplus, McCaffrey said. Schools whose enrollment exceeded projections on the 10th day — the district’s official count day — will see a bump in money.
District CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett had planned to hold schools to student-based budgeting, in which budget money is doled out in an exact sum per child enrolled.
“After examining data last week on the 10th day of enrollment, CPS understood the implications of the reductions, and Mayor Emanuel asked the City’s Budget Office to help determine if surplus funds would be available,” he said in an email.
That made Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey call for an end to this way CPS now allots money.
“CPS should just go ahead and admit that student-based budgeting doesn’t work because for the second year in a row, they have been unwilling to live up to the consequences of the budget,” he said by telephone.
“We applaud the fact that they’re not firing people… four weeks into the school year but what kind of budget system produces a need to come in and do extraordinary measures every year? They should just budget for that in the first place.”
Letters went out to principals Friday afternoon telling them whether they’re gaining money or not.
Portage Park Elementary School was bracing itself for a $400,000 cut since only about 950 kids showed up to the school CPS had projected to take in 1,030, said Victoria Benson, who serves on the Local School Council. That would have meant letting four classroom teachers go, she said.
“I’m ready to cry,” Benson said. Children in the neighborhood moved to local Catholic schools or left the city altogether, she said, adding, “Never in a million years did we think we were going to lose so many kids.”
In the 2015 budget, CPS projected enrollment of 400,445, and logged an official count of 400,545 children in the 2013-14 school year. That was over 420 elementary schools and 96 high schools, according to the district’s website. CPS had 403,461 children enrolled in 2013 and 404,151 in 2012.
The district plans to count again on the 20th day of school for state and federal funding purposes — where schools who fall short of projections could see a drop from those funding streams — and said it’ll take two additional counts in October to give added money to schools who pick up at least 10 more students.
McCaffrey said that the district doesn’t foresee layoffs based on 10th day enrollment.
But in June, the district pink-slipped 550 teachers and 600 other school staffers, citing projections for the 2014-15 school year of falling school enrollment. That did not include another 147 staffers, of whom 76 were teachers, who lost their jobs in three school turnarounds. At the time, CPS projected about 60 percent would be rehired at other CPS schools.
Sharkey said the student-based budgeting unfairly targets veteran teachers who, because of years of experience, have higher salaries.
“I’ve heard from many teachers who were laid off this summer, especially veteran teachers that principals were telling them they couldn’t hire them because they were too expensive,” he said.
Contributing: Art Golab