Proposed CPS Budget Reveals Geographic Disparities in Investment

By Jeffrey Wozencraft, Jessica Kursman, and Nick Zettel

As part of our ongoing research on growing income inequality in Chicago entitled “Who Can Live in Chicago?”, the Nathalie P. Voorhees Center investigated Chicago Public Schools investment into schools by ward since 2013. This is a follow-up to our blog on age distribution that found that majority of young people in Chicago are non-white and living in lower income communities. When looking at the location of schools with unmet capital investment needs, the data suggests these same communities and young people are likely attending schools with the most unmet needs.

Key findings include:

According to annual CPS budget data and the CPS 2013 Needs Assessment – the most recent publicly available needs assessment of all facility needs – there appears to be geographic disparities in how 2013-2018 budget appropriations have been made to meet investment needs by ward.

The 2019 proposed budget continues to demonstrate a mismatch between budgeted priorities and actual investment need by ward (See Map and Table Below). For example, when including the CPS 2019 proposed budget, data shows that Ward 8 in the Chatham Community Area has only received just 9% of its investment needs, while investment in Ward 41 in the Northwest Chicago has received 135% of its investment needs.

Applying race and income to this investment analysis deepens the conversation of disparity.

For instance, according to the Chicago Rehab Network’s 2014 Affordable Housing Factbook, Ward 8 has a population that is over 70% Black and has a median household income of less than $40,000 a year. In contrast, Ward 41 is majority white, and has a median household income of $68,000.

The 2019 proposed budget is the largest budget released in the past 5 years. Yet, the last publicly available CPS Needs Assessment, which has a detailed analysis of all facilities, was conducted in 2013. Without an updated needs assessment that captures current total need for investment in school facilities, it is impossible to gauge whether the 2019 Budget is accurately prioritizing its investment – whether by ward or school. This, obviously, has profound implications for our city’s children and communities.




Photo by Jessica Kursman

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