No More Mr. Nice Guy From CPS Budget Office

What I learned from John Myers' explanation of his big new cover story in Catalyst is that, until now, schools got to keep money if they don't meet projected enrollment but struggle to get more money if they exceed the projections:

"But that’s changing. CEO Arne Duncan

has told principals to expect by-the-book cuts if September enrollment comes up

short. That puts extra pressure on schools to attract enough kids or

they’ll have to ax teachers in October; a problem that will surely hit

neighborhood schools hardest, as many are struggling to keep enrollment up in

the face of gentrification and extra competition from charters."

Apparently, other big districts don't do enrollment school-by-school like we do. They have centralized assignment processes. (Who do they think they are?) Read below to read Myers' full summary. Or click here to read the full Catalyst story.

Full summary:

"CPS starts the budget season by predicting

the number of kids who will enroll in each school in the coming year. Most

principals dispute these predictions; after all, a forecast for fewer kids

means the school will have to cut staff at the start of the new fiscal year in

July.

The problem is the district’s

enrollment projections are often wrong—off by 10% or more in a fifth of

schools this year. Schools that ended up with more kids than

CPS thought they’d get had to make late hires in September. Schools that

ended up with fewer kids—a more common occurrence—essentially

lucked out. The budget office has traditionally held schools harmless for

enrolling fewer kids than expected, letting them keep extra teachers that the

budget staffing formulas do not allow.

"But that’s changing. CEO Arne Duncan

has told principals to expect by-the-book cuts if September enrollment comes up

short. That puts extra pressure on schools to attract enough kids or

they’ll have to ax teachers in October; a problem that will surely hit

neighborhood schools hardest, as many are struggling to keep enrollment up in

the face of gentrification and extra competition from charters.

"The district could improve the process by

switching to a more centralized, transparent way of assigning kids to

schools—much like they do in New York

and Boston.

Currently, CPS lets schools themselves largely manage the process of picking

and registering new students. The process lasts through the summer and,

especially for neighborhood schools, into September, as some kids trickle in to

“dumping ground” schools only after they’ve exhausted efforts

to get into better schools. All the guesswork keeps hiring and school

programming decisions up in the air for far too long."

Filed under: 125 S. Clark Street

Leave a comment