Chicago Public Schools previews equity-focused budget for next year

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Pedro Martinez is offering a preview of next year’s budget, highlighting a major shift in how school dollars will be allocated.

The new budget, Martinez said, will focus on equity rather than headcount.

"I am an optimist. I do believe that the results we're showing in our district are very clear," Martinez said. "We're showing that the investment, when it's made, we get results."

Starting with the 2025 budget, spending decisions will be based not just on the number of students attending but also on the needs of students and poverty rates. This approach is being referred to as an "equity budget."

"We're then adding more resources to schools serving students with greater needs," Martinez explained. "This model guarantees funding for every CPS school to have certain core positions, including, for the first time, an assistant principal and at least one counselor."

Martinez acknowledged that this change means some schools will see their budgets decrease next year.

"Schools that have had historically rich elective programming, in addition to a very low poverty rate, those schools are definitely tighter," he said.

While Martinez did not provide a specific budget number, he indicated it will be similar to this year’s CPS budget of $9.4 billion. The current budget also includes a $400 million deficit, which Martinez hopes lawmakers in Springfield will address.

CPS officials are also allocating more funds to schools experiencing a large influx of migrant children.

"It's something that we're continuing to monitor and we will be making adjustments down the line for enrollment growth," said CPS Chief Budget Officer Michael Sitkowski. "And we will be monitoring what the newcomer situation looks like to make sure those schools have what they need in those areas."

Another potential issue is the upcoming contract negotiations between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union, which is seeking a significant raise. Martinez noted that none of the requested funds have been factored into next year’s budget.