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Proposed CPS Budget Increases Funding to Support Students During COVID-19

August 10 2020 

Dear Members of the Local School Councils, 

While COVID-19 will change what learning will look like this year, and we will undoubtedly have to face new challenges that have yet to surface, our commitment to providing all students with the resources they need for a high-quality education that is rooted in equity will remain the same. Today, we are releasing our proposed budget for the 2020-21 school year—a budget that provides critical resources to support students and families through these unprecedented times while advancing the priorities outlined in the district’s Five-Year Vision

We know preparing for the upcoming school year is top of mind for all of us, and we are investing $75 million to make sure students can successfully learn from home while providing our schools the resources they need to resume in-person instruction when it is safe to do so. These funds will be used throughout the school year in response to evolving challenges presented by the pandemic and will cover additional technology purchases; personal protective equipment; cleaning supplies; free student meals; and contact tracing, among other potential needs. This builds on our Chicago Connected initiative which will connect 100,000 students to high-speed internet at no cost and the 128,000 devices distributed last spring when we pivoted to remote learning. 

Another $653 million will go toward modernizing classrooms in over 250 schools, a majority of which serve students in limited-income communities. These schools will see new Pre-K classrooms, modernized science labs, and new spaces to support an expansion of high-quality programs like STEM, IB, dual language, and personalized learning. Other capital investments will address key facility needs, including bathroom renovations for elementary schools and ADA upgrades that will move us closer to our goal of making the first floor of all schools accessible to people with disabilities. 

With more than $4 billion designated for school budgets, and new investments of over $125 million from last school year, this year’s budget is focused on supporting schools and students who are most in need. It includes the largest-ever funding increase for our diverse learners, brings the number of nurses, social workers, and special education case managers in our schools to an all-time high, and expands our Equity Grant program to include 255 of our highest-need schools. CPS will also reduce funding allocated for School Resource Officers (SROs) 

by more than 50 percent compared with last year’s budget and will use those funds to support our academic investments this year. 

The FY2021 budget was shaped by an extensive public engagement process that included a series of school funding and capital investment meetings. This was part of our goal to strengthen the connection between CPS and our school communities and give families more opportunity to share feedback on important issues like equitable budgeting, academic programs, and student safety. In response to the feedback we received, we expanded our equity grant program and finalized the district’s first Equity Index, which objectively and transparently assesses opportunity differences throughout the city so that capital investments can be prioritized for the schools that most need our support. 

As we prepare to begin the new school year, CPS remains committed to meeting the needs our students face today while setting them up for continued success in the future. We are confident that the investments outlined in this year’s budget will help support the incredible progress our students have made, even during these uncertain times. 

We thank you for your continued support and encourage all families to visit cps.edu/budget2021 for more information on this year’s CPS budget.