Chicago Public Schools will budget less than half as much money this year to pay police officers stationed in schools than it did last year, according to a new proposed district spending plan released Monday.
The reduction in spending on Chicago police officers in public schools comes in the middle of heated debate over whether cops should remain at the more than 70 schools at which they were stationed last year.
The school officer budget for the 2020-21 school year will be $15 million, down from $33 million budgeted last year in a contract between CPS and the Chicago Police Department that’s up for renewal later this month. CPS ended up paying $18 million the previous school year because of days officers didn’t work in schools when buildings shut down because of the coronavirus.
About $4.5 million of the reduction for the new year is again due to officers not working in schools during remote learning days. CPS has announced that at least the first quarter of the school year will be held fully remote, with no in-person learning. Another $6 million is being saved for summer months when officers aren’t in schools or scheduled days of non-attendance, such as holidays.
The remaining $7.5 million decrease is because CPS will no longer pay 48 mobile patrol officers who drive around schools that don’t have officers stationed inside to respond to incidents at or near the schools. Those officers don’t work inside buildings and their responsibilities were not exclusive to internal school safety.
CPS would keep more of its money if at-home instruction extends further into the year, and for every school that votes to remove its officers. Local School Councils at individual schools have been voting on whether to keep their cops. While most that have voted so far have chosen to keep them, some have decided to get rid of them and many have yet to vote. The voting deadline is this Friday.
“It’s no secret that we’ve committed to reforming this program,” schools chief Janice Jackson said at a news conference discussing the district’s new $8.4 billion budget in which the revised school officer spending was included.
“Funding was of course one of many of the reforms we have committed to for this upcoming school year. And you’ll be hearing more about additional reforms as we get closer to the board meeting for the month of August.”
The Board of Education voted 4-3 in June against a motion to dump the contract with police. But another vote on the program is anticipated at the Aug. 26 board meeting, when CPS officials are expected to propose a revised contract for board approval.