CPS gets a scolding from parents for short notice on budget hearings

July 9, 2012

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Chicago Public Schools is holding three simultaneous hearings Wednesday evening to get feedback on its proposed budget for next year.

Some parents say the public wasn’t given enough notice.

That’s because the school district’s massive $5 billion budget just went public on Friday.

Michelle Bever, a parent of two children at Mt. Greenwood Elementary school on the city’s South Side, said that timing is “ridiculous.”

“Look at when it got released: July 4th weekend?” Bever said. “If they really cared about people knowing what’s going on, they would have released that budget with enough time for people to really take a look at it and make advanced preparations so that they could attend.”

Bever is a member of the 19th Ward Parents organization, which continues to question how CPS plans to fund a longer school day.

The budget does not outline how much money is being allocated for the longer school day, and a CPS spokeswoman said there is not a “finite cost” to the longer day.

Darlene Fieberg, a community representative on the Local School Council at Sabin Magnet Elementary School, said she’s skeptical of the proposed budget. Her school gained a position but because enrollment is slightly down, she's worried they may lose it.

Fieberg can’t make it to the hearings Wednesday, but said of CPS, “At least they’re having the meetings.”

The overall increase or decrease in a schools budget also doesn’t correlate with the net loss or gain of teachers. That’s because positions may include non-teaching positions to accommodate the longer school day or extra programs purchased with discretionary money.

Wendy Katten, the director of Raise Your Hand, another parent group in the city, said she’s concerned because she “sees a lot of red” in the next budget, especially for neighborhood high schools. She also criticized CPS for making the public “speed read” the budget before the hearings.

In addition to the three hearings this week, a CPS spokeswoman says parents can post comments on the district’s budget website or participate in a telephone “town hall” next week.

Anyone who wants to comment on the budget or has questions must register to speak between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Hearings will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the following locations:

Malcolm X College
Bruce K. Hayde Center
1900 W. Van Buren
 
Kennedy King College
The Great Hall
740 W. 63rd Street
 
Daley College
Theatre
7500 S. Pulaski
 
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Sabin Elementary School lost a position. Instead, they gained a position.