Student based budgeting a major topic at the CORE convention... CORE Convention – Student- Based Budgeting, “Your enrollment dictates your budget”

When I entered the CORE convention workshop on Student Based Budgeting, we heard these very stark and threatening words: “Your enrollment dictates your budget.” Sarah Hainds and Nick Limbeck led the discussion: Every school are given three positions that CPS covers: principal, counselor and clerk. This is what they mean by equity. A school can still get assistance for bilingual, special education and low-income students, but the rest of the budget is calculated on enrollment. The rest is all numbers. Some of the problem had to do with the radical expansion of the number of CPS schools at the end of the reign of Mayor Richard M. Daley: CPS went from 550 schools and had a peak, prior to 2014, of students with 420,000, to now, with 370,000 students in 655 schools.

During that time, CPS also instituted a radical version of "school choice" which means that children can go to a much larger number of schools than were available to families in the past. While many of these are charter schools, families also have "choice" for regular public schools as well. The details were not provided clearly, but their impact is visible.

Chicago Teachers Union researcher Sarah Hainds made a presentation on Student Based Budgeting to the CORE convention. Substance photo by Jean Schwab,At the beginning of "choice" there were 670 schools, but a large number of charter schools were closed. As a result, with student - based budgeting and the "choice explosion," we now have too many schools with fewer students. A lot of the funding is still categorical, but we still have to fund enrollment and it matters when they open a new school down the block from your school. It also matters when you have special programs in your school, such as, classical, magnet, gifted, career and technical training and specialized programs. Those schools get extra funds which draw students.

Struggling schools with declining enrollment, who would love these programs, have the least funds with no extra money. This is a dire situation now after five years of SBB. We now have 20 high schools which are now operating with fewer than 20% of possible building capacity on the twentieth day. Most CPS High School buildings were built for a 1,000-student capacity. Hirsch High School, for example, has 37 students in its freshman class. What classes and activities can a school offer with 34-40 students in each class? There are students in these schools that need AP classes, English, art, music and extra support to get into college. You do not get any funding for these courses because of "choice" and SBB.

You are lucky if you live in the north side or south west side because their schools are "overflowing" with funds, the speakers claimed. You need 35 students in each class to have a music teacher, and the music teacher may not have a room so the teacher travels with a music cart from room to room. Sometimes large schools have to rotate music, art, gym and other programs so each student gets a few weeks of each.

SBB Overview

CPS knew there would be winners and losers when they initiated this. According to SBB, each school receives $4,240 per student. Go to the north side where there are nice homes and everyone wants to go there. Then go to the lower- income south side where there is lower enrollment, housing is not as profitable, schools are struggling, and people do not want to go there. They call this choice but this is not choice. This is created by CPS and by a market that is self-fulfilling.

Parents on the north side have a blind eye. Destruction is by design. Also, the changing of attendance boundaries last year took students away from Douglas High School and gave students to Austin High School.

We were told that the funds were supposed to follow the student after the 20th day. I’m not sure that is true with charter schools because a charter school member of our workshop said that after the 20th day the money is set and they are paid quarterly.

The workshop then looked at three schools with 500 or more students. We were asked to look at how funds were distributed. The schools in the wealthier areas chose programs and more teachers while the lower - income school chose security as a priority. We were instructed to look at the itemized budget of the schools in our neighborhoods to see where funds were used.


Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

3 + 4 =