In 2019, CPS made a commitment as part of contract negotiations to increase sports funding by $25 million over the life of the five-year contract, over and above regular sports funding. The CPS/Chicago Teachers Union joint committee is charged with allocating those funds, and as a group, met for the first time in April 2021 due to collective attention being on surviving the COVID-19 pandemic and pandemic-related issues for the past year.

The contract language in place designates this $25 million to be spent on equity in coaches’ compensation across sports categories, sports equipment, uniforms, supplies and transportation. The CTU has met with the district a number of times to reach agreement on allocation of these funds, yet the CPS team is maintaining the position that the annual $5 million allotments do not roll over.

The district also claims that since $5 million for the 2019-20 school year went unallocated due to the pandemic, it was re-allocated into the CPS operating budget and is no longer available to the sports committee.

The result of CPS taking this stance is that funds are being withheld that educators and coaches secured for their students and school communities for new uniforms, equipment and resources for athletic programs. This is all happening in a context where the district is scheduled to receive an additional $1.8 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Students need CPS and Mayor Lori Lightfoot to do the right thing and provide the funding that school sports deserves.