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North Side school council rejects its Chicago Public Schools budget for second time

LSC board members Audubschool hold their meeting where they voted whether or not approve school's budget Wednesday evening school Chicago's

LSC board members of Audubon school hold their meeting where they voted on whether or not to approve the school's budget Wednesday evening at the school on Chicago's North-side. The LSC rejected the proposed budget. | Michael R. Schmidt~ For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: August 19, 2013 4:04PM

Despite Chicago Public Schools offering a North Side school an additional $100,000, parents, teachers, and faculty of Audubon Elementary voted Wednesday to reject, for the second time, a sharply reduced budget.

Even with the extra $100,000 dollars, the budget of the Roscoe Village school would have been about $300,000 less than last year’s budget, a reduction that leaves the art and music teaching positions, as well as several administrative jobs, in jeopardy.

The $100,000 offering was tapped from reserve CPS funds. Cash infusions ranging from $35,000 to $100,000 were also offered to 134 other schools to help offset severe cuts, according to CPS spokesman Kelly Quinn.

It’s unclear how the impasse will be bridged. But Audubon, located in the 3500 block of North Hoyne, is not alone in this uncharted territory under a new budgeting system.

Six schools, all in well-to-do areas, so far have rejected their draft budgets — four outright: Blaine Elementary, Whitney Young Magnet High School, Edgebrook Elementary and Kellogg Elementary School. Two more, Audubon and Bell Elementary, rescinded previous approval votes.

“It’s like we’re playing a game of chicken here,” said one Audubon LSC board member.

The CPS budgeting method was changed this year to allocate a set sum of money to schools for each child enrolled and allowing principals to decide how to spend that money — whether on more teachers or supplies or programs. The district, which won’t release the budgets until the end of this month when they’re finalized, says the “student-based budgeting” affords more autonomy to principals. Many schools say it’s left them with tough decisions on how to spend far less money than last year.

“They told us, ‘There’s no more money,’ and then they say ‘Here’s $100,000,’” said frustrated LSC chair Alex Pramenko, who has two kids at Audubon.

With the standards of the highly rated school in the balance, Pramenko said he must consider private schools for his children.

“If everything that you achieve for a public school is going to get beaten down, then maybe you should go private,” he said.

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