As Principal of Hitch, I am so proud to see teachers, staff, and parents make decisions in the best interest of students. It's the motus operandi in this community, and it's amazing to see.
In the spirit of doing what's best for students, I feel it's important to share information about Hitch's 10th day budget adjustment and respond to news about Special Education Cuts across the district.
10th Day Budget Adjustment:
CPS's system for budgeting is called Student Based Budgeting (SBB). Schools receive ~$4,500 per student, and those funds are supposed to cover all the costs of teacher/staff salaries/benefits/pension and all instructional materials for the school. For SY 15/16, CPS provided Hitch a budget for 499 students. On the 10th day of school, CPS schools receive a budget adjustment if enrollment was over or under projected enrollment. Because our 10th day enrollment was 548, Hitch received a budget increase of $223,100. These funds appeared in our budget on Friday.
Hitch will use these additional funds to support large class sizes in K & 2. As previously outlined, Hitch will hire hourly workers to support teachers and an additional Primary Teacher to reduce class sizes.
The Primary teacher will reduce 2nd grade class sizes in the morning and K class sizes in the afternoon. During these large blocks of Math or ELA, K and 2nd grade class sizes will be reduced from 33-36 to 22-24. When K and 2 remain in their homerooms, the large classes will be supported by hourly workers.
We already hired two hourly workers to support K & 2, and we will start interviewing for the teacher position immediately. The goal is to equally distribute instructional teacher support to all primary students in large classes.
Special Education Cuts:
Late last week, CPS announced $12,000,000 in cuts to Diverse Learners (a.k.a Special Education) on the 10th day of school. Along with 10th day SBB budget adjustments, Principals received another type of adjustment: Diverse Learner Position allocations. The salaries and benefits for Diverse Learner Teachers and Paraprofessionals are paid for by CPS, not out of local school funds. During budget season (typically Spring time), CPS provides schools with Diverse Learners position allocations. Hitch received the following:
6 Diverse Learner Teachers
6 Diverse Learner Paraprofessionals
To my complete surprise, on the 10th day of school CPS adjusted Hitch's Diverse Learner allocation to 5 Diverse Learner Teachers and 4 Diverse Learner Paraprofessionals.
I am shocked and confused by this adjustment. As soon as I learned of it, I began working with Hitch case manager - Elyse Knapcik - to review the allocation appeals process. We are currently reviewing all Diverse Learner student needs and filing an appeal to CPS to readjust Hitch's allocation back to its original state: 6 Diverse Learner Teachers and 6 Diverse Learner Paraprofessionals.
Additionally, I am working with other Principals in CPS to request the district provide more clarity regarding this adjustment.
CPS has agreed to push back the appeal day from Sept. 29 to November 2. This will allow more time for our team to prepare a strong appeal. Also, I will attend a closed Principal's meeting with ODLSS (Office of Diverse Learners) to learn more about these adjustments.
Although I am deeply disappointed by this news, I feel like it's important to remain calm. Students with Individualized Education Plans are often in the most need of support, and I intend to do everything in my power to ensure we have proper staffing for them.
I will provide more information as soon as it becomes available.