They issue a series of questions that are mostly easy to answer and have been answered by anyone who bothers to look at actual data.
•Why are expenses rising as enrollment decreases?
It’s that thing that they teach in high school economics called inflation, but looking at the numbers it’s not hard to understand this. Students leaving the CPS tend to be students who have fewer problems. Limited english proficiency, students with IEPs, high poverty students, tend to not leave at the same rate as students without those challenges and thus, it’s more expensive to educate them because they need individualized attention. The rate of LEP is nearly twice that of the state depending on the year and poverty rate is just about twice the state average. So add to this the need to deal with these students in smaller class size settings and yet the CPS has more students on average per classroom than the state.
Making all of this more difficult is that personnel costs and especially health care are increasing faster than the rate of inflation and you end up with avery modest enrollment increases leading to higher costs per student.
One of the things to keep in mind, the CPS keeps pretty close to state averages on expenditures except for students services which is higher because of the types of students overrepresented in the CPS as mentioned above. Given that the instructional and overall spending isn’t that outrageous:
That’s pretty good for a district with the sort of challenges CPS has. All bureaucracies can be made more efficient, but the know nothings at the Trib Editorial Board would be well served to understand that education costs money.
Why hasn’t CPS controlled costs better by outsourcing more jobs, including central office jobs that could be more efficiently and economically run by outside contractors?
This is baffling and largely not consistent with evidence regarding the costs of outsourcing. Central office jobs mostly maintaining programmatic support and monitoring. Some aspects of schools might be served by some outside services, but those are essential to running an effective district. Making broad claims about outsourcing is a meaningless trope that makes the great white guys feel smart, but has no meaning.
So CPS proposes a tax increase — and even more troubling, a raid on reserve funds. There are some efforts at discipline. CPS will deny teachers a scheduled 4 percent raise, cut scores of central office middle managers and streamline departments. It will slash many popular programs, including mentoring for at-risk students; bilingual education; literacy initiatives; extracurricular math, science and technology clubs; and other after-school programs.
Perhaps they need more revenue? How long do you think you can run an effective organization without raises? Sustainability isn’t about cutting things when you are trying to reach students who are harder to educate than the average student. These cuts are exactly what leads to a District like CPS offering fewer opportunities and attracting less qualified teachers and it happens where the students need those the most.