Allocation decisions could cut funding to hundreds of schools, while CPS, Mayor refuse to enshrine public promises in enforceable contract.
CHICAGO—Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement today in response to CPS’ formal FY 2020 budget. He also made remarks at a livestreamed Thursday morning press conference.
“The mayor says her budget for the upcoming school year is good news for schools. We welcome moves to improve working and learning conditions in our schools. She should put those promises in writing, in an enforceable contract—and we invite her to do so at bargaining this afternoon. Anything less simply continues the practice of previous administrations, who routinely promised better for students and educators—and then failed to deliver. Without enforceability, those promises are just words.
“Our analysis of preliminary budget data also raises some serious questions.
“Just last week, Mayor Lightfoot promised to expand staffing for social workers, school nurses and other critical positions by hundreds on July 30. Why does preliminary budget information indicate that there will be no additional funding for school nurses?
“Chicago will see a TIF windfall this year of more than $800 million—a minimum of $200 million of which belongs to our schools. Yet our preliminary analysis shows that much less is budgeted for the upcoming school year. Why is CPS budgeting only a fraction of the TIF funds to which it is entitled?
“Between local and state revenues and this year’s enormous TIF windfall, our schools should be seeing hundreds of millions of dollars in new resources. Are those dollars going to the classroom? Why do CPS budget documents indicate that total spending allocated across all school networks—charters, contract and district-run schools—is actually decreasing this year? Why do those documents indicate that hundreds of schools are actually getting a budget cut this year over last?
“How much more funding is instead going to pay off bondholders? Is CPS still spending millions for short-term borrowing costs – even as Mayor Lightfoot has come up with a strategy to spare the City of Chicago from shelling out tens of millions of dollars in interest for credit lines in their budget?
“Since 2018, early childhood grants from the state have increased by $40 million—a 25% increase. Are we seeing a corresponding increase in staffing and early childhood access?
“CPS has touted its increase to school funding rates and its “equity grants” this year—but is still budgeting using the inequitable ‘student-based budgeting’ system, or SBB. They have an enormous opportunity to end this racist, classist practice. Yet according to documents, hundreds of schools could actually be confronting budget cuts this year, rather than increases to resources for classrooms and frontline services. How many schools’s budgets will be cut this year? How many schools are still losing teaching positions even with CPS’ so-called “hold harmless” funds?
“How much has CPS increased spending on private contracts, which documents indicate is going up again this year by tens of millions of dollars? Other than the nearly $100 million a year CPS pays to Aramark for terrible service to our schools, and $45 million for a new curriculum project that CPS pushed through in May, how much more will this new board be expected to approve in costs for costly privatization, consulting and outside contracting?
“Our bargaining for the last six months has been laser focused on moving CPS’ growing revenue stream back into classrooms and school communities that have been defunded for years by racist mayoral policies of austerity. Our contract is a guarantee to students, parents and school communities that CPS and the mayor will do what they say—provide real equity and educational justice for our students. It’s time to make those campaign promises real—by making them enforceable, in a contract for the common good for the families of this city.”