Chicago Public Schools employs 5,500 more staff members for 32,000 fewer students during past four years

Chicago Public Schools employs 5,500 more staff members for 32,000 fewer students during past four years

Enrollment at Chicago Public Schools has dropped by 31,905 students since 2019. The district’s staff has increased by 5,472 full-time equivalent staff members over that same period. CPS now has 323,251 students and 43,255 staff members, including teachers.

Chicago Public Schools has hired more staff to educate fewer students since 2019. The district spent nearly two-thirds of the $2.8 billion it received in federal relief funds for COVID-19 on salaries and employee benefits, including the cost of hiring more than 4,400 additional full-time staff members since before the pandemic.

District reports show enrollment at CPS dropped by 31,905 students between the 2019-2020 school year and the 2023-2024 school year.

Meanwhile, reports on CPS employee rosters show employment in CPS has increased by 5,472 full-time staff members between December of the 2019-2020 school year and December of the current 2023-2024 school year. That’s a 15% increase in full-time staff members amidst a 9% decrease in enrollment.

The numbers don’t add up, yet Chicago Teachers Union leadership continues to demand more. A $691 million operating budget deficit looms over the district for fiscal year 2025, and only $300 million from the COVID-19 relief funds remain. Meanwhile, CTU leadership is calling for more than $10 billion in new spending on its upcoming contract, on top of regular contract costs.

Despite the additional staff members to educate fewer students, the number of unfilled staff positions in CPS increased from 2019 to 2023. According to the employee position reports, there were 1,193 more unfilled full-time equivalent staffing positions in CPS in Dec. 2023 compared to Dec. 2019.

Not only did CPS hire more full-time equivalent staff members over the four-year period, but it also added more total full-time equivalent staff positions, many of which have remained unfilled. Total full-time equivalent staff positions increased by 6,665.

Even though CPS already employs more staff members for fewer students and has many more staff positions left unfilled, CTU’s leaked demands include mandates for new staff members at every school in CPS at an additional cost to the district of $1.7 billion. But that’s not the extent of their new demands.

The new staff plus other demands that can be estimated total between $10.2 billion and $13.9 billion, but many other demands without clear price tags could add billions more. CTU president Stacy Davis Gates might not have been joking when she said the new contract would cost “$50 billion … and 3 cents.”

The demands would mandate these additional staff positions at every school, regardless of enrollment. Over half of the seats in one-third of Chicago Public Schools are empty. In the case of Douglass Academy High School, the emptiest school in CPS, the demands would add at least eight staff members to their current roster of 23 full-time employees – 31 staffers to educate only 35 students.

Additionally, CTU wants taxpayers on the hook to pay for annual increases in base salary equivalent to either 9% or annual inflation, whichever is more. In other words, CPS staff will be guaranteed to get a minimum 9% raise in base salary annually which will require over $2.5 billion more than today’s salary costs through 2028.

These 9% cost-of-living adjustments would bump up the current average CPS teacher salary by over $38,000 to a salary of $131,573. The average private sector worker salary in Chicago in 2024 is already $32,000 less than the average CPS teacher’s salary in 2024.

Student outcomes are deteriorating within CPS and spending has dramatically increased because of rising salaries and benefits. The militant bargaining tactics used too often by CTU leaders to get their demands met have not been in the best interests of CPS students and families – or taxpayers.

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