CPS Shifts School Funding Model: Local School Council Members Weigh In

Kids First Chicago hosted a forum with over 30 Local School Council members to dissect CPS’s new funding approach and weighed in on WTTW's Chicago Tonight.

By Kids First Chicago Team | May 23, 2024 |

On Tuesday, May 21, Kids First Chicago gathered over 30 Local School Council (LSC) members to unpack Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) new funding approach. The meeting focused on the major changes coming in SY2024-25 and key questions and concerns that LSC members have about the new approach.

Reminder: CPS is ditching its Student Based Budgeting (SBB) model. Read our previous post about the news. Here are the three big changes:

  1. Transition away from the SBB Model: Since 2013, CPS allocated budgets based on student enrollment, with each student carrying a specific funding weight. Principals and LSCs managed these funds to cover teacher salaries.

  2. Guaranteed Teacher Positions: Starting next school year, teacher positions will be assigned based on an enrollment formula. Schools will have smaller flexible budgets but won’t need to "buy" teacher positions.

  3. Cutting Extra Funding for Magnet and Selective Enrollment Schools: The new budget removes additional funding for these programs, which historically received extra resources.

What’s Driving The Change: The shift addresses the growing number of “small schools” (those with fewer than 300 students) that struggle to maintain baseline staffing under the SBB model. Since 2018, CPS has supplemented these small schools through various grants and funding modifications.

What We Heard: Mixed Feelings and Uncertainty from LSC Members. On Tuesday night, we explored how the shift will impact local schools and their budgeting. Conversations focused on three big questions about:

  • School Autonomy and Flexibility: Questions remain about how principals and LSCs can reallocate positions or convert them into budget dollars. The degree of flexibility in budget approval processes is also unclear.

  • Equity Concerns: There’s potential for teacher migration to better-resourced schools. Previously, experienced teachers cost more under SBB, but the new model removes this financial barrier. Transparency in the formula’s application is critical.

  • Vacancies: Staffing challenges could arise if allocated positions go unfilled, potentially impacting school operations.

As our previous post noted, the shift in CPS’s school funding approach comes as another decision that has been made without much school and family engagement.

Even those who support some of the changes to school funding have strong critiques about how these decisions have been made.

The Big Picture: CPS is grappling with a $391 million deficit for SY2024-25. Despite federal COVID relief funds, the district remains underfunded relative to student needs. The expiration of this federal aid in September 2024 exacerbates the budget shortfall, complicating future financial planning.

See K1C on Chicago Tonight

K1C’s Hal Woods and parent leaders Maria Owens and Abigail Vences appeared on WTTW Chicago Tonight on May 21, 2024, to explore this topic.

Watch and read more
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“'There really was not a lot of engagement done by the district prior to making this change,' [Hal] Woods said. 'There wasn’t a lot of engagement with parents, much less educators, students or even really school principals about this dramatic change.'”

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