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CPS revises budget, owes its charter schools another $37 million

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Chicago’s public school system is revising its current budget to account for new provisions from the education state funding bill, including paying another $37 million to its charter schools.

The new law that changes how Illinois allocates money to school districts, benefiting the ones that serve mostly poor students, gave CPS an additional $450 million, and Chicago Public Schools officials assumes another $55 million in “debt refunding savings and purchasing savings.” But the law also increased funding for the state’s charter schools.

The Illinois Network of Charter Schools had estimated a $100 million bump for more than 120 schools in Chicago, but CPS’ revised budget contains much less. CPS — which has prided itself on allocating the same amount of money per pupil no matter what school type — also will no longer fund its charters under “student-based budgeting.” Instead it’ll base charter funding on the district’s per capita tuition charge, officials said in a press release.

“While the district believes a student-based budgeting funding model is the most effective way to maintain funding parity between schools, CPS is working within the confines of the new law to consolidate — and, in some cases, eliminate — previous charter funding streams to best ensure equity across the district,” it said.

A district spokeswoman did not answer further questions. Several charter executives said CPS scheduled a Friday meeting to explain the funding.

INCS spokeswoman Kelley Quinn couldn’t yet account for the discrepancy but said, “We look forward to the day when all schools are experiencing funding increases rather than cuts.”

Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, worried about CPS allocating more money to the privately managed schools while “making no guarantees that the money they’re handing over goes into classrooms or for children,” saying CPS is “already running a starvation school budget where schools are dealing without a lot of the basic things they need.”

CPS must hold public budget hearings, but they’ve all been scheduled on a Tuesday during business hours downtown, which will surely limit public participation. A Truth in Taxation hearing is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 10, followed by budget hearings at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

The school board is expected to vote on the amended budget at its Oct. 25 meeting.