CPS released the 2016-17 school year budgets on Wednesday, July 13 and the administration, the LSC and Waters Today is working diligently to ensure that Waters makes the most of every penny in our budget. The LSC voted on July 20 to approve the preliminary budget based on the enrollment numbers as of that date and the budget was submitted on July 22 for CPS review.
With this balanced budget, Waters will retain all current programs and remaining staff, based on the voluntary departures of two staff (one teacher retirement and one teacher relocation to another district), and the placement of 99% of our budget towards staff, with only 1% remaining for materials, supplies, services, professional development and other non-salaried needs. Class sizes will be slightly larger than previous years in some grade levels but our staff is prepared to meet this challenge. There is no question that the unfortunate departure of two teachers, a possible drop in overall enrollment, and a non-renewable federal grant allowed us to arrive at a precariously balanced budget given the significant cuts over the past several years. We continue to monitor enrollment, with the hope that we will close the enrollment gap before school starts, currently at 629 with a CPS projection of 654 students for 2016-17.
The majority of our funding comes from CPS’ Student Based Budget (SBB), a funding mechanism that links dollars to student enrollment. Last year we had 645 students at an average SBB base rate of $4176 per student, down from $4390 the previous year. This Fall we are projected to have 654 students with a SBB base rate of $4087 per student. While this gives us a gross gain in our overall SBB budget from $2.8 million last year to $2.9 million this year, it is a net loss because there is less money per student. Our diverse learner (DL) funds also dropped from $427,297 to $410,205, despite the fact that we are anticipate more DL students than last year and that we are mandated by State Law to meet their IEPs (Individual Education Programs). We are in the process of appealing the DL budget reduction. Further, we received a slight reduction in our State (SGSA) funds from $236,117 to $211,901 due to changing demographics. These cuts are offset by a welcome increase in Federal Title II Funding from $35,810 to $102,700. In the final analysis, our original budget for 2015-16 was $4.475 million and our projected budget for 2016-17 is $4.3 million, for a net loss of $175,000.
Please keep in mind that the budget is a work in progress as our enrollment numbers change and as we work on resolving issues like our appeal for more DL funding.
What can you do as a parent or community member?
- Enroll: With student-based budgeting, our budget is directly related to our enrollment. So please contact the office at 773-534-5090 if you need to enroll a new student or if you are planning to transfer (either within or across districts). We use current enrollment numbers to make decisions about staffing and non-staff budget items, so it is extremely important that we have accurate numbers to plan for the school year.
- Advocate: When the opportunity arises, please join the LSC and other groups across the city to advocate for more fair and equal funding for CPS.
- Student Fees: In May the LSC approved an increase in those fees from $60 to $100 per student (with a cap of $250 per family). Payment plans and a waiver will be available for those unable to pay the full amount at once. This year we will also be offering electronic payment to make it easier than ever before. Please help us to meet the highest-ever participation rate for our student fees.
- Donate: If you have the means, please consider supporting our school through volunteer efforts and donations to our fundraising organization, Waters Today, which funds our ecology, music, and lunch/recess programs as well as a growing list of other materials/supplies and curriculum needs. Every effort and every dollar counts!
Thank you for being a valuable part of our community. By working together we can overcome these challenges and we will continue to advocate for our students.
Titia Crespo, Principal
Nilsa Alvarez, Assistant Principal
Erica Smith, LSC Chair
Greg Foster-Rice, LSC Vice-Chair