With district spending up, CPS schools still face cuts amid shrinking enrollment

With district spending up, CPS schools still face cuts amid shrinking enrollment

CPS’ 2017-18 budget shows cuts for many schools as student populations shrink, despite an increase in per-pupil spending for the district as a whole.

On July 24, Chicago Public Schools released the budgets given to schools for the 2017-18 school year.

Included in the budgets were cuts in funding for 307 CPS schools, despite the fact that CPS will be increasing spending per student by $200 for the upcoming school year.

One of the reasons CPS schools receive budget cuts is a decrease in student enrollment, as funding can be derived based on the number of students enrolled in a school.

CPS expects total enrollment to decrease by roughly 8,000 students for the 2017-18 school year, an improvement from the loss of more than 11,000 students the district lost in the 2016-17 year.

Enrollment in CPS schools has declined significantly over the last 15 years, with the district having around 60,000 less students in 2017 than it did in 2002 when the decline began.

As CPS’s enrollment declines, the district loses funding from the state and federal government that comes on a per capita basis.

Many parents of students have expressed concerns over the financial stability of CPS. In a 2016 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Phil Huckleberry, a parent and member of the Local School Council at Prussing Elementary said, “Families are fleeing CPS. We have no confidence in the Mayor, CPS administration, or the City Council. This trend is only going to continue.”

Like Huckleberry predicted, CPS’s fiscal situation has only worsened. CPS’s massive debts have only grown as the district has borrowed nearly $1 billion in the summer before the 2017-18 school year to make payments to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund.

CPS is currently hoping for a bailout from the state in Senate Bill 1. SB 1 would replace the current school funding formula with a new funding system that has proven ineffective in other states and contains a $215 million annual pension bailout for CPS.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has called a special session in order to address SB 1 so he can use an amendatory veto to remove the CPS bailout after the General Assembly failed to send the bill to the governor’s desk by Rauner’s July 24 deadline. The special session will begin Wednesday July 26.

CPS has been junk rated since 2015 and has shown no indication of improving its credit rating as the district still holds more than $9 billion in debt.

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