Mayor Lightfoot wants to cut tens of millions of dollars from our schools, while at the same time, is sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars in unspent federal recovery funds.
On Friday, May 13, we sent the mayor and her Chicago Public Schools team a clear message: Do not cut school budgets!
Look up your school’s proposed budget cuts, download one of our sample flyers, fill it out with your school name and amount of proposed cut, and spell out for the mayor the harm that these cuts will cause.
Then take a selfie or a group photo with colleagues and share out on our May 13 Day of Action with the hashtag #FreeTheFunds. CPS is already back-peddling from some of its most harmful cuts, and the more pressure we put on the district, the more funding we can restore to our classrooms and school communities.
How we got here
In the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, with student need higher than ever, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez declared 2022-2023 would be a “recovery year.”
When Mayor Lightfoot released school budgets for the next school year in March, however, it contained cuts to more than 40% of all CPS schools. Cuts, on the average, amount to $200,000, with some schools losing upwards of $900,000.
How can our students recover when the services, teachers, staff support and other resources they depend on are cut? CPS calls its system “student-based budgeting” (SBB), but in reality it means that schools are handed budgets with no regard to the actual needs of the students in each school, or in their individual communities.
South and West side schools continue to be defunded by the mayor, and neighborhoods like Little Village and Pilsen were handed huge cuts to almost every school. CPS still has 70% ($370 million) of school recovery funds unspent and access to more than $1 billion in federal support that it hasn’t yet budgeted for next year.
So why is the mayor cutting school budgets when students need support and the money is there?
What our students need
Students and families have faced real trauma and loss, both prior to and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They deserve recovery — not cuts — and also:
- More social, emotional and mental health supports
- More teachers and classroom assistants
- Access to counselors, social workers and nurses — right now — in every school
- Technology support and investment
The district has the money; the mayor and her CPS CEO are simply choosing to not fund our schools.
If your school faces budget cuts, there are a number of things you can do to demand more for your students.
Whether you’re a parent, guardian, community resident or student, there are ways to fight back against the cuts to your school’s budget — resistance that is already working. At Zapata Elementary in Little Village, where the mayor proposed cuts of nearly $1 million, fighting back led to a verbal commitment from the CPS CEO to restore some of the funds lost.
The Zapata community continues to fight to have every cut restored.
What you can do
- Mark your calendars for this Friday, May 13 — our Day of Action to #FreetheFunds. Download our sample posters, fill in the amount of cuts your school is confronting and write down what those cuts will cost (fewer teachers for SPED, art, music and math, fewer SECAs, fewer after school supports for students, etc.). Then share on your social media or with us at email@example.com. (Don’t forget to tag us on Facebook and @ctulocal1 on Twitter and Instagram).
- Download and share this flyer about budget cuts, in English and Spanish.
- At least one CPS Local School Council voted NO on its proposed budget, which was due on April 19. There’s still time to ask your LSC to write a letter to tell CPS that these cuts are unacceptable at your school, and that students need more.
- Call CPS CEO Pedro Martinez at 773- 553-1500 and demand that he keep his word to have a recovery budget for next year. No cuts, fund our schools.
- Contact your alderman and let them know how cuts will harm your students. Ask for their support.
- Attend a budget training to better understand how hundreds of millions of dollars in COVID-19 recovery funds are not being used for our students. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
- Speak at the next Board of Education meeting on May 25. Sign up online at cpsboe.org on Monday, May 23, at 10:30 a.m. sharp.