The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district has been downsizing for quite some time to save resources, but the administration is asking the Board of Education for a costly request: increase the furniture budget from $4.5 million to $9.5 million, the Chicago Sun Times reported.
Chicago is the third-largest school district in the United States, so this is a difficult time for teachers, students and administrators. The district’s central office is in the midst of moving from its 125 South Clark headquarters to 1 North Dearborn, which was formerly the home to the Sears flagship retail store.
CPS spokesman Joel Hood explained to the Sun Times that the larger budget will cover moving costs and commercial furnishings from Staples.
“This is part of CPS’ overall strategy to re-structure and streamline its central office, which has cut its budget by nearly $700 million over the last three years to direct more resources towards the classroom,” Hood said. “By moving to a smaller, more efficient central office in the fall, the District projects to save an additional $60 million over the next 15 years.”
On the other hand, schools like Blaine Elementary School in the Lake View neighborhood are working with a $700,000 budget cut, while trying to keep music and art programs alive.
“For almost a year now, parents have been asking CPS to cut spending for central office and put the money in classrooms where it belongs — and to serve students,” Blaine Elementary school council member Kate Schott Bolduc told the news source. “I think teachers and textbooks need to come before furniture.”
Earlier this week, teachers, parents and activists voiced their concerns about the proposed budget, stating that it is a poor use of resources when three elementary schools are on the docket to be closed during the 2014-2015 academic year, the Chicago Tribune reported. Students from these schools would be moved to the Academy of Urban School Leadership, which is a private school.
Chief administrative officer Tim Cawley took the time to defend CPS furniture budget, saying that items that remain unused would be re-purposed across the district. CPS long-term plans also include liquidating leftover inventory.
The CPS administrative office’s plan to purchase quality office furniture may need to include looking at alternative solutions. If $4.5 million is not enough to offset current costs for the central office, then perhaps another option exists to improve their bottom line. Many times we see businesses find that the remedy for their limited budgets through purchasing pre-owned office furniture.