Part of a $9.5 billion budget recently announced by Chicago Public Schools will go into mental health and social-emotional learning. Part of the allocation will be used to also create modern classrooms that are safe for students and teaching staff.

 

More on The Budget

 

According to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, this investment “will set the foundation for what CPS students can expect in classrooms, from reasonable class sizes to more staff members working to tap the full potential of our bright and talented children.” She went on to note that with the budget “our unstoppable students will stand ready to compete and collaborate in their communities, with their schools, and beyond.”

 

Considered a balanced budget, there will be an 8% increase per student in school funding. Funding for public schools is based on enrollment figures and this increase is earmarked to go directly to the costs associated with student instruction and other “school-level priorities.” The budget features an increase of over $240 million in school-level funding. That makes up a total of $4.6 billion of the budget which is in place from July 1, 2022 until June 30, 2023.

 

More Staff Will Join CPS

 

Probably the most significant thing to come out of the new budget is the increase in staff funding. The new budget will provide funding for over 43,000 full-time employees across the district. This will include an increase of 1,621 full-time employees through the 2022 fiscal year. The budgeted new positions will include 524 teachers, 745 school support staff, plus an additional 155 citywide student support staff. This would include such positions as school social workers, nurses, and any other staff employed within a school building.

 

Breaking the numbers down further, the full-time positions funded in this new budget will also include 103 additional staff members in the Offices of Teaching and Learning, 17 administrative staff employees, and 66 instructional support leaders. Of the increase in administrative staff, a total of 12 new employees will handle network safety and creating safety teams. Student mental health is one driver in the need for additional staffing across the district.

 

As for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding, CPS has spent $1.26 billion of the allocated $2.8 billion, or 45%. The emergency funds were received over the past three fiscal school years and were used during the pandemic to provide support for CPS students and families. For parents who would like to take their care outside of the school system, teenagers and upwards can visit mental health practices like Geode Health, opening in West Loop and Lakeview neighborhoods soon.

 

Why The New Budget Matters

 

Officials from Chicago Public Schools explain that the funding from the new budget will cover five main priorities. They include:

 

  • The implementation of new in-school health and safety measures
  • The adjustment to a temporary period of remote learning
  • The hiring of extra staff employees to assist in academic recovery
  • The addition of more social-emotional learning resources for students
  • The employment and retention of more qualified staff

 

Speaking of priorities, the new budget includes $730 million designated to address three main Chicago Public Schools goals. They are:

 

School-Level Funding Support

A total of $404 million will go to fund various district priorities and fulfill the local-level needs.

 

Investment Support

A total of $230 million will go to support district investment in academic recovery and social-emotional learning, plus numerous other student support programs.

 

Additional Positions

A total of $96 million will go towards the costs associated with school-based operation positions. A portion will also be used to help with pandemic-related issues.

 

What They Had to Say

 

Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez says, “We’re grateful for these additional and much-needed federal funds.” He adds, “We’re investing these funds strategically, setting a new foundation for success to ensure schools have the resources and capacity to move every student forward.” This is the first CPS budget Martinez has overseen as CEO, however, he had been the district’s Chief Financial Officer in the past.

 

Final Thoughts

 

As one of the largest school districts in the country, Chicago Public Schools is setting the pace by addressing the mental health needs of students. With 638 schools and over 340,000 students, the recently announced $9.5 billion school district budget will go a long way in filling several gaps within the system. From funding new staffing positions to creating safer classrooms and providing an increase in resources, you can bet that all eyes within the US educational system will be carefully watching what happens at CPS, and will likely follow suit to replicate any successes that are made along the way.