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Citywide School Closings to Cost—Not Save—CPS Nearly $1 Billion

by ctu communications  |  03/22/2013

CHICAGO—Mass closings of public schools by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Board of Education will cost Chicago Public Schools (CPS) nearly $1 billion, according to Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) analysis of the CPS FY2013 budget, Capital Improvement Program (CIP) data and Board of Education reports. CPS has claimed a “utilization crisis” and $1 billion budget deficit to justify adversely affecting 30,000 students and causing massive upheaval at 61 public elementary schools, but that deficit is nearly equal to resources purportedly allocated for school improvement and student safety. 

Based on estimates from the CPS budget and the CIP, it will cost the district approximately $750 million—$15 million per school—to provide 50 schools with computer education, counseling and social work, additional safety and security, and renovations. This figure includes $129 million in CIP costs for pre-kindergarten, students living with disabilities, libraries, play lots, air conditioning and computer labs. 

Safety and security is an overwhelming concern for the CTU and the thousands of families who will have children uprooted and traversing gang territories en route to receiving schools. CPS has promised an approximately $676,000 per school to bolster safety programs and add additional security guards and Chicago police support, despite concerns from some alderman that police resources are already stretched thin on the city’s South and West sides.   CPS held that more than $550 million was needed to repair the buildings that housed the schools on its hit list, which supposedly made the structures too costly to manage. But a question remains of how the district can expect to sell or repurpose the buildings without making hundreds of millions in repairs—expenses that are in addition to the resources it says it will provide for thousands of transferred children.  

“CPS is making all of these promises of how it will support these students and their schools, but once again, they’re lying just to make families sympathetic to what they’re doing,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “They’re promising students all of these things which will cost a billion dollars, which is the same amount of money they’ve claimed not to have.” 

The CTU contends that it is no coincidence that the $1 billion dollar deficit CPS has claimed is nearly equal to the cost of all closing actions.

“They’ve had these plans in the works for months, which is extremely insulting and demeaning to all the families and teachers who have been out here fighting for their schools,” Lewis said. “The mayor and CPS had sealed their fate from the very beginning.”

Chicago Teachers Union