George Szkapiak, Principal of John F. Kennedy High School, looked at the CPS budget, compared it to his own school’s budget, and noticed that something wasn’t right. Actually, he noticed that several things weren’t right. He analyzed the budget and sent his finding to his school community (see his full letter below). Among his findings and conclusions were the following:
- The individual school budgets—as reported to the press—are inaccurate and misleading.
- Despite an overall increase in enrollment, public school budgets decreased.
- Charter school enrollment increased, but CPS gave them twice as much as the increases warranted.
- The overall effect of these calculations leads to the conclusion that CPS’s massive borrowing is—in part—to divert increasingly more money to for-profit managed charter schools.
- We must join together and fight for fair, equitable, and adequate funding for our schools and our students; and Wednesday’s board meeting might be a good start.
I would add to Mr. Szkapiak’s analysis a reminder that these budgets are based on CPS “projections” or estimates of student enrollment. It appears that CPS systematically overestimated charter school attendance while underestimating public school attendance. If this is correct, it means millions more in extra funding will flow toward charter schools for students that their enrollment does not justify.
Principal Szkapiak’s Letter
Hello Dear Kennedy HS Community Members,
A quick update regarding budget and the Wednesday, July 22, 2015 Board of Education Meeting. The budget released on Monday to the media, at least what was reported about Kennedy HS, was inaccurate. Attached is the budget for all schools. It states Kennedy HS had an increase of 46 students in SY 2016 enrollment thus increasing our Total Change from FY15 to +$405,549. That is completely false. On the attached FY2016 Budget Summary page, our enrollment did increase by 46 students increasing our budget by +$389,898. However when you look two sections lower under Diverse Learners Kennedy HS had a -$393,941 reduction in funding. That resulted in a -$3,943 reduction. The complexity and lack of transparency with which school budgets are disclosed and communicated to the public must improve. If I reported to the public that our school had a $405,549 increase in funding but actually had a $3,943 shortfall, I’d get fired and be accused of fraud.
It gets worse. I analyzed the entire school by school budget reported by the Board to the media. Public Schools which had increases in their enrollments, like Options and Alternative schools, had their budgets reduced. All while Charter Schools which definitely had increases in enrollment received more than double the amount of Student Based Budget allocations they were entitled to. Below the table illustrates what the budget released by the school board reveals:
|School Type:||Network:||Change in Enrollment:||Increases or Decreases based on Enrollment:||Total Change from FY 15:||Difference b/t what is owed to schools and what was actually allocated:|
|Charter – Alternative||Charter||88||$479,072||$1,050,980||$571,908|
|Elementary||All Networks & OS4||-2708||-$12,719,476||-$42,156,614||-$29,437,138|
|High Schools||All Networks, OS4, Options, & AUSL||-1183||-$6,440,252||-$18,421,466||-$11,981,214|
Options schools had increases in enrollment of 384 students entitling them to +$2,090,496. However options schools were reduced by -$1,324,229. That is a -$3,414,725 differences between what those schools are owed and the amount they were reduced by. Charter schools on the other hand had increases in enrollment of 2,695 students entitling them to +$14,671,580. However, the rub is charter and contract schools received a +$30,880,843 increase. That amounts to +$16,209,263 more than they are entitled to, all while the City of Chicago is borrowing half a billion dollars to cover the Board of Education’s budget obligations and paying a ridiculous amount of interest due to the City’s and Board’s junk bond credit ratings.
The story gets worse when looking at public elementary and high school budgets. For the sake of time and space I’ll combine the two. Elementary schools and high schools had decreases in enrollment of -3,891 resulting in a combined -$19,159,728 budget reduction. However, -$60,578,080 was taken out of elementary and high school budgets. That amounts to -$41,418,352 more being taken than the decreases in enrollments required. I’d love for Mr. Irizarry, our resident math genius, to explain the radical mathematics used to calculate these figures. Simply unfair! Money the School Board doesn’t even have and is borrowing was removed from public schools to fund charter and contract schools. As a responsible and ethical public employee and your principal, I respect you enough to tell the truth and believe you have a right to know. I’ve attached the documents used to make my calculations and I welcome you to check my work.
In terms of the City of Chicago School Board Meeting this Wednesday, July 22, 2015, registration for speakers and observers closed within ten minutes after opening on Monday, July 13, 2015. I was lucky enough to register as a speaker. Some staff members were lucky enough to register as observers. However, if you plan on going to the meeting on Wednesday expect not to be allowed to get into the School Board Chambers because there is a capacity limit. Chicago Teachers Union is planning to be present outside CPS Central Office Headquarters. I encourage everyone to join CTU in a sign of solidarity to protest the unfair defunding of public schools and the inaccurate reporting to the public regarding school budgets. We need to join together and fight for our students and ourselves. Our students and we are equally worth investing in.
Yours in Education!
George Szkapiak, Principal
John F. Kennedy High School
Off: 773-535-2325 Ext. 25810
You may access the documents used in the above analysis at the following link:
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