February LSC Meeting
Discussing Resolutions, CPS $46 Million Budget Freeze
March 1, 2017
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Lane’s Local School Council (LSC) held a meeting Feb. 16 to discuss resolutions and to look over issues within the school’s budget due to CPS’ $46 million budget freeze.
- The council congratulated senior Victor Salgado, Div. 769, for winning the 30th annual Young Playwrights Festival and having his play, “Eye See All,” performed at the Pegasus Theater Jan. 4-29.
- The council also complimented Girls Cheer for winning the City Championships Jan. 22.
Reports Led by Principal Brian Tennison:
Tennison discussed the importance of the 48-student college trip to Michigan that took place Feb. 21-22. The group visited Western Michigan, Kalamazoo College, University of Michigan and Albion College. The trip was available to the junior class exclusively and cost $25 per student, covering transportation, meals, entertainment and hotel, according to Lanetech.org. “These were students who would have had difficulty getting to these schools,” Tennison said. “That was part of the new process of trying to expose more students to post-secondary.”
Tennison also discussed future conversation with Umoja, a Chicago-based organization that, through seminars and their Restorative Justice Peace Room Models, aims the ambitions of low-income students towards future career paths, according to Umoja’s Website. “There has been a lot of things brought out because of the larger environment,” Tennison said. “We are responding to the students needs and what we hear.”
In addition to reaching out to organizations like Umoja, Lane has officially become a Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) school. Tennison said that Lane has signed a three-year, one meeting per year deal, which he said he hopes will inspire a coaching model that revolves around balancing positivity and competitiveness.
A large proportion of the LSC meeting was a detailed description of the current budget “crisis” at Lane, given by Mr. Tennison. According to ABC Chicago, CPS imposed a $46 million freeze in the CPS budget Feb. 2, in response to what ABC News called a $215 million cut given to CPS schools by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
The CPS budget freeze resulted in the loss of $892,707 in Lane’s budget, a change of -3.14 percent according to DNAinfo.
Lane Tech has three separate funds: Student Based Budgeting (SBB), Supplemental Grant State Assistance (SGSA), and Internal Funds — rigid funds that prohibit money being moved across one another, according to Tennison.
“The most flexible spending fund is your SBB fund,” Tennison said. “That’s where most if not all of your salary and benefits are. However, when you take salary out of the picture, the amount of money that we can actually do anything with shrinks dramatically.”
“They [CPS] looked at our budget, and they said they can take away $892,000,” Tennison said. “We didn’t have enough money to cover $892,000 in our SBB line because the budget was open, and we continued to spend our budget like we were supposed to.”
CPS wants high schools to spend their budget throughout the year and not all in the beginning or all at the end; that’s how CPS can judge “responsible budgeting,” Tennison said.
After the budget freeze took place, Lane was told, initially, that it has $134,000 in debt, according to Tennison.
“Jill [Woods, School Clerk], Rene [Luis, Buildings Operating Manager] and I spent over a week of work on this,” Tennison said. “We dug into this and found that the real debt we had to cover was $187,000.”
Tennison said that to close this gap, they had to move teacher salaries in between funds while following the specific rules on this matter set in place by CPS; the SSB fund is now at $0.
Various bucket funds, along with $386,000 in the SGSA fund and $400,000 in Internal funds remain in play for the school to use for funding projects around Lane, according to Tennison.
“Nothing was lost,” Tennsion said in reference to the $892,707 no longer in Lane’s SSB fund. “It just means we can’t do what we planned.”
With what remains of the budget, it is not clear what is to come of the projects the LSC had planned out before the freeze. Some of the anticipated projects included renovating the fourth floor girls locker room, moving usable lockers from that project into the third floor boys locker room, refurbishing gym floors, buying new desks, purchasing different laptop carts for science as opposed to chromebook carts, and allocating new SMART Boards and whiteboards to teachers who need them most, according to Tennison.
The planning of allocating the remaining budget to specific projects could be affected by $100,000 textbook figure and a $200,000 AP test tab that has yet to be paid, according to Tennison.
Two and a half hours before announcement of the budget freeze, Lane administration was told that anything they buy or put money towards prior to the announcement wouldn’t be counted towards money CPS was likely to take away from the, according to Tennison, Woods, and Emily Haite, LSC chairwoman.
Tennison, Woods and Haite got together and approved four budget appeals that included $31,310 towards new scoreboards, $12,352.5 in new AP U.S. History textbooks, $27,250 in new AP World History textbooks, and $14,118 put towards a class set of Statistics textbooks for next year.
“The things that I signed were things that we already approved — we just didn’t have the number in our meetings,” Haite said. “I felt that because I already discussed those in the meeting, that I can approve those without having an actual meeting.”
“They followed our spending priorities,” Tennison said.
At the end of the long discussion of the budget, the council approved two budget transfers: $35,000 deposit to the Sheraton Hotel for senior prom, funding that is projected to come from prom ticket revenue, and $16,917.60 towards graduation accessories (i.e. caps, gowns, etc.).
The February LSC meeting consisted of acknowledging the success of Lane’s student body through accomplishments in the fields of both arts and athletics, and the discussion on how the council can maintain the school budget during the $892,707 freeze. The coming budgeting plans for the rest of the school year should reflect the discussion that took place throughout the meeting.