Please see Part I here.

(You can download my preliminary spreadsheet which merges an overview of the FY14 Budget figures with data about each school.  As always, as this is an unpaid data project often done at night by one person, please check this data over before using it elsewhere.)

And the answer to the question:

Who was correct on Chicago Tonight? Andrea Zopp or Wendy Katten?

Overall, Wendy Katten of Illinois Raise Your Hand for the win. Based on the information we have at this time.

Let me explain.

  • We can’t do the best school-by-school comparison because we are missing an important piece of data….projected enrollment for individual charter school campuses broken down by sub-groups of students who receive extra funding (bilingual students, special education students in different categories, etc.)  That is unfortunate, but until CPS begins to require the same data detail and uses the same reporting standards and transparency as other schools which are primarily funded through taxpayer dollars, there is little that can be done about it until the data is released.
  • There were a lot of variables this year (closings, new schools, re-locations, boundary changes, program additions, etc.) that affected the aggregate budget numbers of school type categories in ways that are difficult to visualize.  I did my best. Please contact me regarding corrections, additions, and updates.

Andrea Zopp was correct in that a variety of schools received increases and decreases.  A few charter schools did see some decrease in their budget. But overall, charters did receive more budget dollars.  And overall, traditional neighborhood schools received less money this year.

Budget Categories for School Types vs. Administration Budget # of Units % Change FY13 > FY14 $ Change from FY13 > FY14 in millions
Closed 2013 47 -100% (147.52)
Previously Closed Schools 24 -92% (2.83)
Phasing Out Schools 3 -38% (2.37)
Multiplex Accounts 11 -24% (1.35)
Child Parent Centers/Early Child Centers 24 -15% (2.40)
Traditional, Neighborhood Open Enrollment HS 41 -14% (57.54)
Turnaround HS (AUSL) 5 -14% (4.80)
App/Lottery Admission – HS 15 -8% (8.77)
Mixed Neighborhood/Selective HS 8 -7% (8.26)
Turnaround Elem (AUSL) 16 -6% (7.00)
App/Lottery Admission – ES 29 -5% (6.31)
Selective Enrollment HS 20 -4% (8.49)
Traditional, Neighborhood Open Enrollment & Magnet Cluster ES 286 -4% (65.24)
Selective Enrollment ES 7 -2% (3.36)
Mixed Neighborhood/Selective ES 11 -2% (0.80)
Existing Charter/Contract Campuses 126 7% 37.70
Traditional, Spec Ed/Alt 15 11% 8.37
Receiving, Elementary 60 29% 58.92
Central Office, Network and Citywide Accounts 39% 0.58
Unknown Budget Line 1 168% 0.61
New Charter Contract Campuses 16 726% + 24.63
** All totals are approximate. Please check with FY2014 CPS Budget (accessed August 28, 2013) for detail via CPS Oracle Dashboard.

CPS is opening 16 new charter or contract campuses this year at a total cost of $28~ million in 2013/2014. ($24.6 million more than these 16 campuses received in start-up funding last year.)

Adding new schools in community areas which are already underutilized dilutes an ever-shrinking pool of school funding, so that schools have less and less to work with until…more school closings.  Which undercuts some of the currently successful programs that CPS does have, underfunds programs that struggle to pull together the resources to be successful, and adds to the Administrative Overhead costs of continually paying for expensive, rapid cycles of expansion and contraction in the District.

This also seems like an odd choice to make in a year of closing so many schools, especially since some of these campuses will be located in neighborhoods where schools were closed.  Such as the new LEARN Elementary Charter in East Garfield Park.


New Charters are White Circles with Stars

Closed Schools are Red Circles with Stars.

Other categories of schools lost as well.  Although it appears that Receiving and Traditional/Spec Ed schools were winners, they most likely weren’t.  These are the schools budgeted to absorb the majority of the students from the Closed schools.  The Closed Schools lost $147~ million while the Receiving Schools only gained $59~million. This is not a “win” for those schools.  Some of that money was most likely spent on Safe Passage and iPads. But that is a different type of expense than teachers, libraries, etc.

And we won’t know what the real impact of SBB budgeting has been on each school until we have a final enrollment for 2013-2014 for each school.

The schools that had the most to lose in many cases are Non-Charter, Non-Options for Knowledge Schools.  Although some of these schools get extra funding from the Federal/State Government (TItle 1 funds, etc.), those funds are often earmarked for specific expenses–not discretionary–and these schools also have:

  • Less ability to project into the future and plan because of mobility and uncontrollable enrollment demographics
  • Less ability to maintain or balance class sizes
  • More students struggling with poverty, family instability, or other issues.
  • Inability to take advantage of previous year’s progress if they have high mobility (some classes start over every year)

Neighborhood schools that serve any student, any time that they show up during the year have these extra costs and issues that pose great challenges, and which often lead to more uncertainty and volatility for the school.  And they don’t have the filter (or the leverage) of a lottery/application/selective testing admissions process that most charters, Magnets, and Selective Enrollment programs have.

The cost-shifting that happened in this year’s budget masks some good comparisons. Central Office took the costs of school-based engineers and lunchroom staff away from the local schools, but they pushed more expenses from Central Office on to the schools as well.  Charter Schools are being expected to pick up an equitable share of pension funding.

Some charters have complained that they don’t receive the same “support” from Central Office (some of the non-Charter principals just did a spit take of their morning coffee.)  I can say from many conversations with teachers, ex-Area Instructional Officers, and school administrators that I need to caution those charters…be careful what you wish for.  I imagine that–having weighed in with their experience with support from Central Office–many non-charters would rather take the Central Office funds and be able to spend them in their school instead.  Charters already hold a number of advantages that non-charters do not other than their ability to control enrollment and enjoy the freedom from much of the District bureaucracy. Many outside organizations are already underwriting/funding different aspects of Charter School operations, such as marketing, recruiting, etc. And Charter Schools have access to loans and grants that many non-charter schools do not. Be careful to compare apples to apples when comparing charters and non-charters.

We’ll see how budgets fare with the 10th day enrollment adjustments. It is disheartening to see so many schools going without art, music, libraries, bilingual pull-out resources, fully-staffed cafeteria operations (which allow students to get more time at recess since they are more efficient logistically), etc.  The year has already been quite grim, let’s hope that the City and the State of Illinois realize that in underfunding education in Chicago for so long, the City will forever be the Second City or Third or Fifth…while the State of Illinois continues to trail the pack in education strength.

One thought on “The Answer: Which Schools = More Money in FY14?

  1. Pingback: Did Charter Schools get more $ or not? | Apples 2 Apples in Chicago Public Schools

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