Close to twenty-five percent of the Chicago Public Schools $423 million budget is going to just three schools in the district.
All three schools are selective enrollment high schools on the North Side.
They’re getting 23 percent of this year’s capital budget.
Construction of the new $60 million Obama College Prep High School, an addition at Walter Payton, and repairs at Lane Tech add up to $98 million.
CPS spokesman Joel Hood says construction at Obama and Payton is only possible due to TIF funds. “We’re maximizing dollars that have been available to us,” Hood says. “That’s why we actively go and seek outside revenue sources, to try and take care of all of our priorities.”
And he says Lane is the district’s largest school, enrolling more than 4,100 students. “It’s a very old building, it’s a large building. The safety and structural needs there are great. This is certainly a project we’ve had on our radar for a number of years, and this was the year we could address it,” Hood said.
This year’s capital budget is 2.6 times higher than officials projected. The district plans to issue $260 million in bonds to pay for it. They estimate that $18 million annually would be added to the cash-strapped district’s debt payments.
Residents in the city, particularly those who reside on the south and west sides, have long argued that their schools are being neglected. In 2012, the district opted to close more than 50 schools on the city’s south and west sides they deemed under performing.
The move was heavily criticized, with community members, parents and members of the Chicago Teachers Union protesting it.
Thoughts on the huge chunk of the budget being allocated to just three schools?
Does CPS need to increase their focus on schools located on the city’s south and west sides?
Sound off below!