Chicago spends billions on hiring teachers despite falling enrollment rates
The Chicago Board of Education recently approved a $9.3 billion budget using emergency COVID-19 funds from the federal government to hire 2,000 new employees, increase staff size, and distribute raises.
The money is temporary, and a staggering 100,000 fewer students are expected back when school starts at the end of August.
Interim Chicago Public Schools CEO Jose Torres warned using federal aid would create a “fiscal cliff” and massive problems down the line, but his concerns were drowned out.
BOE President Miguel del Valle also warned against using COVID-19 dollars.
“It’s basic math that if we take those federal dollars, and we use those federal dollars to create full-time positions at high numbers, that within a couple of years when those federal dollars are gone, we will not have the funds to pay for those positions,” he said. “The fact is, there is a cliff in a few years … And for this board, or any board, to not understand that and face up to it I think is a mistake.”
The decision to hire more personnel for fewer students follows a coordinated campaign by the Chicago Teachers Union to put a full-time nurse and social worker in each of the city’s 600 schools, according to an analysis by The Civic Foundation, a nonpartisan watchdog. The foundation found the new hires were OK’d after an additional 890 jobs were added in the past decade, despite district enrollment dropping by more than 63,000 students.
Spending on personnel — salaries, benefits, and pension costs — has increased more than 40% or about $1.4 billion over the same period.
The Civic Federation also called on CPS and the BOE to produce a five-year plan outlining revenue and expenditure scenarios.
Despite routinely bending to pressure by the teachers union and green-lighting unconventional projects and hires, Chicago public schools have had very little to show for their efforts, especially when it comes to making sure students learned during the pandemic.
The state ranked 8th worst in the nation for offering students full-time in-person learning between September 2020 and April 2021. CPS reopened remote learning to students back in May 2020.
However, during the course of a week in which 90% of students had access to remote learning resources, 23% never logged on.
CPS administrators have said one of their top priorities is to “reengage” 100,000 students at risk of skipping this school year. CPS pointed to a campaign that started last month involving district representatives visiting the homes of 18,000 students. The week after, they also called parents of 75,000 students, Illinois Policy wrote.
In addition, they have partnered with community groups in underserved areas to improve back-to-school outreach.
It is unclear how successful those efforts have been.
Calls to CPS and the teachers union for comment were not immediately returned.
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Original Author: Barnini Chakraborty
Original Location: Chicago spends billions on hiring teachers despite falling enrollment rates