Budget news, Ren10 rolls on, and The Squid (Chicago IL)

It was a budget-licious week in Chicago school news, from the Board’s annual throwing down of the gauntlet to state lawmakers, to the President’s threatened cuts to popular programs, to Catalyst’s report on effort to change budgeting schemes within the district.

First, the Bush administration announced that it wanted to cut at least $30 million in federal funding: Potential impact of federal cuts WBEZ (audio). See above for more on whether any of these cuts stand a chance of being implemented.

Then, Catalyst’s excellent report on funding inequity among schools and a potential change in how funds are allocated started to get lots of attention: CPS eyes budget equity (Catalyst), City schools look to fix funding gap (Crain's Chicago Business). The issue also got national coverage on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Later in the week, the Board finally rolled out its annual press release on how much it needs from the state: Schools threaten to start slashing (Chicago Tribune), More than 200 schools may have to share buses (Chicago Sun-Times).

But the budget news doesn’t end there. While school budgets have rebounded somewhat -- Many fewer school districts reported budget deficits in 2004 (Chicago Sun-Times) -- it’s going to be a strange year for education because there’s no longer an independent state board to help shame the Governor and the state into doing as much as possible for Illinois schools: Board lets governor make first call on school funding Governor ... (Chicago Daily Herald).

Meanwhile, the Governor is AWOL on education, according to some critics: Heat is turned up on school funding (Chicago Tribune).

On the Ren10 front, this week brought more reflections on Greg Richmond’s departure, including my own revised and expanded thoughts -- Renaissance 2010 loses its muscle (Chicago Journal) – as well as several others’ more respectable insights: Chicago School Official to Head Up Authorizers’ Group (Education Week), CPS New Schools Development Head Departs WBEZ (audio), and Human Capital: Greg Richmond, Karen Boran, Jean Franczyk (Teach and Learn).

On a related note, Teach and Learn’s Mike Lach does a good deed by posting the recent New Yorker cartoon about the giant squid who decides he would rather be a sushi chef than sushi (who wouldn't?). “He feels he can do more good working within the system,” says the sushi chef to the customer about his deep-sea partner. I’m a squid (Teach and Learn). Eventually, of course, you know what happens to the squid. He loses his sense of humor.

Meanwhile, the Ren10 juggernaut continues. The 12 newly approved schools met with their new CPS “project manager,” Lisa Schneider, whose place and power have yet to be entirely spelled out. Hearings for the four proposed school closings took place at the Board. And, even though New Schools for Chicago’s Phyllis Martin doesn’t even have any staff yet, at least one funder has stepped up with some Ren10 cash: Northern Trust Grants Record $3 Million to Help Chicago Public ... (Chicago Business News).

Last but not least, here’s something I missed from a few weeks ago -- a good WBEZ segment: Portrait of a Renaissance 2010 School Head (audio). And something from today that I didn’t miss: Charter schools boast lower dropout rate (Chicago Sun-Times).

Best of the Rest:

City schools go after overcrowded classes Chicago Tribune
Class Size Teach and LearnChicago, Ed. Dept. Settle Tutoring Dispute
Parents sue U-46, accuse it of racial bias Chicago Daily Herald, IL
3 Hispanic families sue District U-46 Chicago Tribune


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