Advocates press CPS to maintain funding for charter schools

Chicago Charter SchoolsChicago Public SchoolsIllinois Network of Charter Schools

With uncertainty still surrounding the next Chicago Public Schools budget because of contract talks with teachers, dozens of charter school advocates Monday packed an auditorium inside a LEARN charter school on the West Side to call on the district to maintain spending on charters.

Officials from the city’s most prominent charter schools, including United Neighborhood Organization (UNO), Noble, Chicago International Charter and others are asking the school board to make good on the proposed $76 million allocated to the charter community in this year’s budget.

The longer the contract negotiations play out, the more charter supporters worry that money may not materialize, said UNO chief executive Juan Rangel.

“I understand the pressure from (the union), that’s their job, but not at the expense of our kids,” Rangel said. “We want this budget passed. They made a commitment, pass the budget.

“I know how this game gets played, and we’re not going to allow the CTU to negotiate charters out. If CPS is serious about reforming the school system, and serious about charters as a key strategy, they need to come through on their commitment.”

Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, said each year charter schools educate more CPS students. Now is not the time to curtail plans for future charter expansion, he said. 

“Over the past couple of weeks we’ve seen a drum beat of commentary in the press about whether we can afford charter funding,” Broy said. “We want to make clear that it’s a priority for the district.”

The $76 million set aside for charter schools in the 2012-13 school year largely restores funding that was stripped away three years ago, Broy said. It does not fully address the needs of the growing charter community, he said.

“We want our voice heard as this political process works its way out,” Broy said.

jhood@tribune.com

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