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CHICAGO—Today, the Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey released the following statement about the Chicago Public School’s (CPS) move to implement “student-based budgeting” throughout the school district:

“The idea seems simple enough–assign a certain amount of funding to each pupil and allow the principal of the school where the student attends to spend that money as she likes.  But even former CPS CEO Jean Claude Brizard admitted that per-pupil funding had dangerous implications and would promote discrimination against veteran teachers.

“If you give per-pupil funding, it is an average across the city. There is an incentive for certain people to lose older, more expensive teachers for younger, less expensive teachers.”  -Jean Claude Brizard, interview with Catalyst Chicago, Dec 7, 2011. 

“Whether it’s called “Equitable Student Funding” (Rochester), “Dollarizing the Budget” (Jean Claude Brizard’s term), or “Student Based Budgeting” (CPS) there are a number of serious flaws with the idea of per-pupil funding,” said Sharkey.  He added the program:

  • Invites discrimination as principals will have a built-in incentive to replace highly skilled-yet-expensive veterans with cheaper novices.
  • Raises oversight concerns as principals will have a much larger pool of discretionary dollars—which may be spent on any variety of unproven programs and questionable pet projects
  • Lacks research and preparatory work—we don’t yet know how many schools will see their budgets cut as a result of this change.  Nor have we had a chance to examine the assumptions about special education funding.
  • Opens the door to funding following students out the door to charters or private schools.

“We note that CPS did attempt to address the problem of a school whose actual staffing costs are above the amount allocated by the per-pupil formula.  CPS has claimed that it will make a “budget adjustment” and that school will receive funds to cover the additional amount.  But this stop-gap measure—a promise of extra funding for this year—in no way compensates for the destructive, long-term, and systemic consequences of this program.”