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Dear Colleagues,

Today, we are pleased to announce that the Chicago Board of Education approved our proposed budget for FY2020 that reflects our continued financial stability and invests responsibly in the programming, technology, and infrastructure that drives equitable student success cuts at least $100,000 from the budgets of over 200 schools – including over 40 schools that take budget hits of at least half a million dollars.

We are strike readyAligned to our new Five-Year Vision, this budget builds on our commitments lip service to academic progress, which is wholly a testament to our hardworking teachers, paraprofessionals and support staff, and financial stability because the CTU fought for and won State and local funding of more than a billion dollars a year for CPS, and integrity. The district’s first Equity Office, which we established in 2018, played an integral role in developing this budget — ensuring every decision we made was filtered through an equity lens.

With over $3.8 billion designated for school budgets – less than what CPS spent on schools last year, we were able to make significant investments claims not yet embedded in the actual budget that move us toward our promised but still unmet goal of bridging the opportunity gap that remains for our students of color, limited-income students, English Learners (ELs), and diverse learners:

That amount — $3.8 billion for school budgets – is actually less than last year, even though our schools have huge pent up needs for more staff and more resources after eight years of deep budget cuts and chronic austerity. And that is less than HALF of CPS’ record $7.7 billion budget that is going to our schools.

  • The district has committed to expanding staffing levels for key support roles over the next five years, and the FY2020 budget allocates $10 million to add 95 additional nurses, social workers, and case managers. The following positions will be prioritized for the district’s highest-need schools to help ensure equitable access to student supports. But we didn’t actually put those positions in the budget that was passed on Wednesday, which in fact shows CUTS to social worker positions of three, and cuts other positions much more – including over 12 percent in cuts to librarians and certified school nurses alone. Because the CTU relentlessly raised heck about this, our budget officials privately admitted to the union at Wednesday’s board meeting that CTU pressure forced us to actually include those jobs in a revised position file report. No actual living, breathing workers in those jobs yet, but the positions at least now have actual funding tied to them. Please try not to look too closely at how many PREVIOUSLY budgeted social worker positions remain unfilled.
  • CPS is not providing an “additional” $31 million in equity grant funding for 219 elementary and high schools with low or declining enrollment. According to CPS budget officials at Wednesday’s board meeting, that money already went to schools in budgets to principals this spring. Upshot: over 200 schools that are taking $100k+ budget hits in the budget that was passed on Wednesday will STILL take those budget hits this fall. That includes more than 40 schools that will see cuts of more than half a million dollars each. This ensures that students in these schools will still be shortchanged compared to receive the same world class education as their peers attending larger schools whose budgets will be slashed less this school year.
  • We say we are allocating $12 million in funding to provide our ELs with a high-quality bilingual education that supports their needs and celebrates the rich heritage they bring to our schools, but no-one – not education beat reporters, advocates and allies or the union’s research team itself, can find where that money actually is in the budget, where it will actually go or how it will be allocated.
  • As part of a new, equitable program application that allows school leaders and their communities to apply for academic programs that best suit their needs, CPS says it is investing $5 million this year to provide 32 schools with new programming such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), International Baccalaureate, and dual language. But this is old news – literally six months old, announced by Rahm in March of 2019. And it’s not $5M in one year, it’s spread out over SIX years – on average, an additional $830k per year for 32 total schools that had to compete for these funds. The total average annual value to each school over the six-year period? $26,000. That’s better than nothing. But the grants for STEM and other supports also represent literally a THOUSANDTH OF ONE PERCENT of this year’s $7.7 billion budget.

In addition to school budgets, the FY2020 budget prioritizes $619 million in capital investments for more than 300 schools that will ensure our highest-need communities have access to cutting-edge technology and modernized facilities that support educating the whole child – although a WBEZ analysis shows less than a third of these dollars are actually committed to schools along with a dollar amount. Specific investments include:

  • $280 million to complete maintenance projects and interior improvements, ensuring students in all parts of the city can learn and grow in high-quality learning environments. This investment also includes $10.5 million to kick off a five-year plan to ensure the first floor of every CPS school is ADA accessible for all students and adults with disabilities – far short of what is needed or required by the ADA. CPS’ ADA plan drew fire from advocates on Wednesday, because it makes only the FIRST FLOOR of schools accessible. For schools that have more than one floor – hundreds of both newer and older schools – you better hope you don’t have to go to an art room on the second floor or a cafeteria in the basement, because there are zero dollars to make that possible for either students or staff with mobility restrictions. The Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 1990, and 30 years later CPS is spending funds that will STILL leave hundreds of schools out of compliance – and those with restricted mobility locked out of anything but the first floor – if they’re lucky.
  • $85 million to expand access to high speed internet and purchase technology that supports student learning – with plenty of opportunity for favored contractors to make big bucks on these contracts, and for CPS to explore ‘directed learning’ schemes that allow us to shed even more educators by parking students in front of computers in lieu of a teacher.
  • $45 million to upgrade playgrounds, install athletic fields, and create learning gardens around the district – far less than the needed investment, even though some schools have been waiting years for these basic facilities supports.
  • $30 million to build state-of-the-art high school science labs – again, far less than the needed investment. All planning for these capital investments continues to happen behind closed doors, without state-mandated transparency in published facilities plans or meaningful public input.

This budget also takes a significant step toward our pledge to provide all four-year-olds in Chicago with access to free full-day Pre-K by 2021 by investing $120 million in capital funding to build Pre-K classrooms throughout the city, which is the district’s largest-ever single-year Pre-K facility investment. We are not, of course, providing funding in the new budget to actually staff these new facilities, because we want to reserve the right to privatize out those services – a scheme that’s worked well in the past with Aramark, Sodexo and RCM. Not.

The capital budget also includes an additional $202 million in potential external funding, including $191 million in potential state funding that was approved this spring as part of a six-year, $45 billion state capital bill. These funds will be allocated to specific projects selected by the state as funding is made available over the next six years – if we ever get this funding. So don’t worry, schools that are still neglected! There could yet be pie in the sky! Trust us!

We are confident that claiming we’re making these investments will help move your school away from fighting for these promises – in writing, in an enforceable contract – and our district forward to business as usual and go a long way toward supporting continue the lack of transparency, accountability and real investment that we SHOULD but still are not providing to your incredible educators, students, and families who have made CPS a national leader in urban education.


Lori E. Lightfoot
Mayor of Chicago
Janice K. Jackson, EdD
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools
The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at