Chicago principals get more flexibility, likely less money in budget

June 6, 2013

WBEZ/Becky Vevea
File: CPS elementary classroom.

Principals across the city may have to figure out how to do more with less money from the district next school year.

Chicago Public Schools is in the process of briefing principals on how much money they’ll have to work with as the district continues the switch to a more rigorous curriculum and implements full-day kindergarten across the city.

CPS is fundamentally changing how schools receive money. Rather than allocating specific positions and earmarked pots of money, the district will give principals a specific amount of money per student to spend as they see fit.

More than 40 district schools and the city’s 104 charter schools have been funded this way for several years. But the rates were set at roughly $6,000 per student for elementary schools and $7,000 per student for high schools.

CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said the per pupil rates for next year will be $4,429 per student in kindergarten through third grade, $4,140 per student in 4th through 8th grade, and $5,029 per student in high school.

Carroll did not immediately know if charter schools, which have long complained about being funded inequitably, will be getting the same amounts as district-run schools.  The new rates are significantly lower than charters’ previous per pupil rates of $6,070 per elementary student and $7,587 per high school student.

“We need to treat every school equitably in this process,” Carroll said in an e-mail Wednesday night when asked about the decrease in the per pupil amounts.

Magnet and selective school programs will continue to get some additional teachers and administrative positions funded by CPS to continue running the specialty programs they offer. There are also additional pots of money that come from state and federal sources for special programs like early childhood education and children in poverty. It’s unclear how that money will be distributed to schools.

A breakdown comparison is below.

FY14 rates
K-3 = $4,429
4-8 = $4,140
HS = $5,029

FY13 rates (for schools funded on a per-pupil basis)
Charter schools
$6,070/ES student
$7,587/HS student

Per pupil pilot schools
$6,969/student (0-300)
$5,845/student (301-450)
$5,077/student (451-900)
$4,531/student (>900)

Performance schools
$6,126/ES student
$7,658/HS student

Source: Chicago Public Schools FY13 Budget – Appendix B, School-Based Budgeting

Becky Vevea is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her @WBEZeducation.