Mapping Chicago Public Schools priorities

A WBEZ and Catalyst Chicago analysis shows push for charters, magnets, specialty programs

July 13, 2012

Becky Vevea and Sarah Karp

Officials at Chicago Public Schools released next year's proposed budget last week and have repeatedly said it reflects the district's priorities. 

If that’s the case, the $5 billion operating budget reveals that the district is directing resources—and students—to magnet, specialty, selective and charter schools and away from neighborhood schools.

WBEZ and Catalyst Chicago analyzed school budgets and mapped which schools would get more money and which would get less.

Overall, schools with admissions policies—charter, magnet and selective enrollment—see an increase in both funding and positions. About 87 percent of the city’s 100 charter schools will get more money from CPS, compared to just 30 percent of traditional public schools. 

Charter schools are projected to receive 6,500 more students next year, more than the 4,665 that district officials previously reported.  That means next year, 13 percent of CPS’ student body will be in charter schools. The increase to charters, CPS says, is due to an agreement signed last fall that assured an increase in per-student funding for charters, which have been historically funded less per student than neighborhood schools.

View Mapping the CPS Budget - "choice" schools in a full screen map

Traditional neighborhood schools and non-selective magnet schools lost a total of $122 million and 166 positions. CPS projects almost 9,000 fewer students will attend these schools. Neighborhood high schools were the hardest hit, because of low enrollment projections and other program cuts.

View Mapping the CPS Budget - "traditional" schools in a full screen map

Key findings show...

  • The number of teacher positions allocated for specialty schools and programs, including selective enrollment schools, increased by 615, but the number of regular classroom teachers allocated to schools based on enrollment decreased by 515 positions. 

  • 136 schools lost money overall, but ended up with more staff as a result of the decision to shift money into the discretionary pot. Principals gain flexibility, but have said they feel hamstrung to rehire teachers and keep programs intact. In turn, teachers say principals are pushed to hire less-experienced staff because they earn less.

  • Schools on the South and West sides were hit the hardest by budget cuts. Schools in those areas are the most likely to have declining student enrollment and thus lose teaching positions.
  • Overall, CPS’s 11 selective enrollment high schools will lose $1.8 million but have 52 more positions, in part because CPS is adding a selective program to the South Shore International High School.

 

Correction: This story was updated at 12 p.m. July 16.  An earlier version of this story included incorrect enrollments for some schools.