Chicago Public Schools on Tuesday unveiled the proposed framework of its $9.3 billion budget for the 2022 fiscal year, which includes more than $1 billion in federal relief funding that will aid the nation’s third-largest district as it begins to move forward from the pandemic.
CPS’ budget draft, which is almost an 11% increase from last year’s financial blueprint, aims to help schools after more than a year of online learning. The proposed plan is for spending from July 1 to June 30, 2022.
As part of the district’s two-year, $525 million plan dubbed the “Moving Forward Together Initiative,” CPS is allocating $267 million of federal money to support students’ current social and emotional needs as they return full-time to the classrooms while also setting them up for future success. District officials said those funds will go toward hiring and training literacy and math tutors, bolstering schools’ behavior and mental health teams as well as upgrading technology especially among Black and Brown communities, which were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
Here’s a breakdown of the proposed usage of other federal funding:
- $132 million to supporting students as they return the classroom, covering technology costs, PPE, cleaning supplies, vaccine efforts and other costs that might arise during the transition
- $100 million to support projects that improve air quality
- $288 million to boost school-based programmatic investments
- $178 million to fund school-based instructional positions
- $95 million to provide a proportionate share of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding to charter and contract schools
“This budget invests in meeting the needs … that our students face today, while setting them up for success in the future,” newly appointed interim CEO José Torres said in his opening remarks during a video conference call. “We’re confident that the investments we are making will accelerate learning while giving our students the tools they need to heal socially and emotionally from the trauma of the past year.”
Additionally, the proposal includes more than $225 million in additional funding for school budgets.
CPS also plans to spend $672 million in equitable capital investments to ensure schools are well-equipped to welcome students back full-time this fall. That money will go toward critical building repairs and modernization efforts, ADA accessibility, IT infrastructure and capital upgrades to support modern learning environments, district officials said.
The district expects to distribute more than $328 million for improvements at more than 90 schools. Those projects include rebuilding roofs and mechanical infrastructure, stabilizing chimneys and replacing fire alarms.
Another $100 million in federal funding is expected to go to 17 schools in need of mechanical renovations, including improving heating and cooling systems well as associated electrical and plumbing infrastructure.
“We are staying focused on what matters and as providing an equitable, high-quality education for every child, regardless of the zip code, race or country of origin,” Chief Equity Officer Maurice Swinney said. “This budget balances the unique needs of today’s students with a bright future that we all see for our youth after COVID-19 is finally behind us.”
It’s unclear how much money the district is putting aside for its contract with the Chicago Police Department. CPS senior advisor Lindy McGuire said the district believes the decision is best made at the local school level.
“We will forward to working with those with schools as they implement their own school safety plans,” McGuire said.
News of the proposed budget comes a little over a week into interim Torres’ tenure. He said the budget planning began a year in advance and that it was “pretty much completed” by the time he took office last Monday.
“I did not change anything on the budget,” the former Elgin schools superintendent said.
The Chicago Teachers Union is expected to release a statement on the proposed budget later Tuesday.
The district will hold a series of budget and capital hearings later this month. The first one is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 20.
CPS officials plan to present to the final budget to the Board of Education for a vote July 28.