Community schools funding in question

Sarah Karp | Catalyst Chicago

Organizations that run community schools--the programs that keep school doors open into the evening with classes for adults and activities for children--reportedly have been told by CPS that they will not receive district funding next year.

Sylvia Gonzalez, the community schools resource coordinator for McAuliffe School in Logan Square, says the loss will mean that students won’t have as much access to tutoring and a safe place to be after school. Like many community schools, hers opens at 7:15 a.m. and doesn’t close for 12 hours.

“A lot of our parents are both working and they don’t speak English well,” Gonzalez says. “They say to me, `I can’t help my child. I don’t understand.’ They turn to us.”

CPS spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler says that the budget is not final, and would not confirm or deny whether organizations are receiving word about cuts. The budget must be approved at the August school board meeting.

Earlier this year, CPS officials announced that they would provide $130 million more to principals in discretionary funding, despite facing a significant budget deficit. This extra discretionary money was supposed to help principals implement the shift from a 5.45-hour to a 7-hour school day. 

Greg Hall, acting director of the Federation for Community Schools, says his understanding is that the money typically allocated to community schools was shifted into that discretionary pot. The Federation for Community School provides training and support for individuals and organizations involved in developing programs.

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