Austin schools brace for layoffs, cuts

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As CPS scrambles to fix its finances, many Austin schools could bear the brunt of deep budget cuts and see start and end times change in September.

It’s still not clear how many of the estimated 1,400 educators and staff CPS laid off June 30 worked at any of Austin’s elementary and high schools, as officials have not released that information.

Several West Side schools – including Austin Business & Entrepreneurship High School and Austin Polytechnical Academy High School – are slated to lose money, while others like Ellington Elementary School will gain, according to CPS’ 2015 budget.

To save money on busing, students at dozens of high schools city wide – including Douglass, Marshall, Orr and all three operating on the Austin High School campus – will start school an hour later.

Though the move is supposed to save money, state Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) said he’s unsure how it will save money and if it will be safer for Austin students, who will be getting out of school an hour later. Ford said CPS assured legislators that students would be able to make it home during daytime hours and students who have after-school activities already travel home in the evening.

The reduced budget will also affect services and programs including repair and maintenance, coaching stipends for sports and new teacher development programs, Ford said.

While other schools are have had a surplus in funding, Austin’s public schools need books, teachers and counselors, and there’s not room for further reductions, Ford said.

CPS has “not explained how the school is going to keep them later and how that’s going to be safer for them,” Ford said. “There are some schools in the city that are overflowing with funding for programs, but Austin is not one of them.”

Dwayne Truss, a longtime Austin resident who serves on the board of the parent advocacy group Raise Your Hand Illinois, said he would like to see politicians do more than simply express their concern over these changes.

While state budget issues are still being sorted out in Springfield, Truss said he would like see black politicians advocate harder for an elected school to give citizens more control over local schools and slow charter school expansion.

“Our black politicians and ministers need to step up and say, ‘We need an elected school board,’” Truss said. “I’m tired of hearing some of our elected officials being concerned . . . I want to see our elected officials’ concern become action.”

Rather than cutting funding from schools, Truss said Raise Your Hand Illinois would like to see a progressive income tax or tax on services such as tax services or legal services. (The current income tax in Illinois is 3.75 percent). He said he’d also like to see parents get more connected and organized to advocate for their children’s education.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to reach out and connect with parents,” Truss said. “We’ve got to keep pushing and not give up, because somebody didn’t give up on you.”

Here’s how the new budget would affect Austin’s public and charter schools:

Austin Business & Entrepreneurship: Projected decline of 21 students (from 150 to 129) and loss of $85,340

Austin Polytech: Projected decline of 8 students (from 170 to 162) and loss of $134,071

Banner Academy West HS: Projected increase of 9 students (from 301 to 310) and loss of $48,498

Brunson: Projected decline of 60 (from 559 to 499) and loss of $283,238

Catalyst Circle Rock Charter School: Projected decline of 10 students (from 516 to 510) and loss of $96,278

Clark ES: Projected decline of 2 students (from 250 to 248) and gain of $2,345

Michele Clark HS: Projected decline of 8 students (from 516 to 508) and loss of $207,854

DePriest: Projected increase of 13 students (from 666 to 679) and gain of $26,853

Douglass: Projected decline of 16 students (from 241 to 225) and loss of $198,659

 Dvorak: Projected decline of 20 students (from 400 to 380) and loss of $235,091

Ellington: Projected increase of 12 students (from 605 t0 617) and gain of $97,112

Hay: Projected decline of 36 students (from 478 to 442) and loss of $163,487

Howe: Projected decline of 29 students (from 544 to 515) and loss of $433,367

KIPP: Projected increase of 81 students (from 233 to 314) and gain of $643,007

Leland: Projected decline of 27 students (from 569 to 542) and gain of $364,933

Lewis: Projected decline of 34 (from 471 to 431) an loss of $128,450

Lovett: Projected decline of 14 students (from 413 to 399) and loss of $45,003

McNair: Projected gain of 13 (from 346 to 359) and loss of $51,837

Nash: Projected decline of 20 students (from 319 to 299) and loss of $210,525

Plato: Projected decline of 10 students (from 487 to 477) and loss of $70,193

Sayre: Projected decline of 28 students (from 494 to 466) and loss of $230,714

Spencer: Projected decline of 54 students (from 703 to 649) and loss of $539,065

VOISE HS: Projected decline of 43 students (from 264 to 221) and loss of $432,864

Young ES: Projected decline of 64 (from 974 to 910) and loss of $333,217




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