Top 9 things CPS is spending money on like it's not broke

Top 9 things CPS is spending money on like it's not broke

I'm sure you've memorized the number by now--the answer to every question and the precondition for every claim. One billion. One billion. One billion. Say it with me, One billion. If you don't have it memorized, you need to. That's the amount of the CPS budget shortfall for FY 2014, or anyway, that's what they say.

They said it before the school closings, which were supposed to fix the shortfall.

They said it before the first round of firings, which were supposed to fix the shortfall.

They said it before they announced $600M in central office cuts, which were supposed to fix the shortfall, although no one can tell us exactly what was cut (Becky Carroll: "It doesn't work that way"), and if you compare all the claimed central office cuts over the last six years to the claimed central office budget, central office would have been eliminated entirely five times over.

They said it before the announcement of the new per-pupil funding structure, which was going to give principals so much autonomy, but which actually cost schools 90 million in budget cuts. Some schools saw losses in the low hundreds of thousands; some saw losses as high as 4 million. (Dollars. Just in case you forgot we were talking about money.)

They said it again before the recent round of layoffs--2100 this time.

They're still saying it.

One billion, one billion, one billion, onebilliononebilliononebilliononebilliononbillion

The CPS adding machine is stuck. It can't write any other number anymore, no matter what is slashed from the FY 2014 budget. I think maybe they need spend a little money for a new one. Meaningful financial analysis has not been a part of CPS decisions for months.

Well it gets boring talking about deficits so much. I get tired of the same number all the time. So I thought I'd collect a few others and share them. Here's my list of the top 9 things CPS is spending money on like they don't have a onebilliondollarbudgetdeficit.

9. $47,500 for 500 new metal detector wands for elementary schools from Nova Security Group, a security company that specializes in "less lethal" products. (From their Director of Sales, about their new school product line: "We are currently working on a 'Stun Camera' that will target intruders and fire less lethal projectiles designed to immobilize without causing permanent harm.")

8. $100K each for three north side schools who might be thusly enticed to pipe down now and quit their complaining about closings, slashed budgets, and firings. (Except they didn't take the money and they won't shut up.)

7. $1.6M to nearly triple the CPS commitment to Teach for America. Good idea, CPS, since you're firing your teachers and aides at a pretty rapid rate this summer.

6. $2M+ for Leadership Training Academy weekend training sessions sponsored by something called The SUPES Academy for an unspecified audience of "educational leaders."

5. $7.7M for a Safe Passage army of 600 workers and 19 vendors to escort children from one dangerous neighborhood (that of their closed school) to another one in a rival gang territory (their potentially not-so-welcoming school).

4. $18M for more efficient lighting in 241 schools including 9 closed schools ($538,574). CPS already paid for this but the Mayor is now putting the squeeze on private investors as reported in the Tribune: The mayor, who created a trust "to fund public works projects the city could not otherwise afford, is enticing private firms to pay for the school improvements by promising a cut of the energy savings on future electricity bills. But it is unlikely investors will see much of a return, if any, from new lights installed in empty schools."

3. $25M annual interest for 30 years on the $329M bond they took out this spring to pay for the closings to save money and close the onebilliondollarbudgetshortfall.

2. $161M in new capital improvements to the receiving schools taking in kids from the closing schools that were closed to save money, which is really great because some of those facilities aren't in such great shape and furthermore, now they're going to be overcrowded. (Actually, CPS is currently working on over $900 million in projects that began in FY13 or before.)

And finally.....

1. The Full School Day, the Mayor's signature education reform for Chicago, adding 90 minutes of instructional time per day.

Oh, wait--they're not spending any money on that.


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