By Daschell M. Phillips
The Ray Elementary School local school council held a special meeting on Thursday, Aug. 29, to approve its revised budget for the school year.
In July, the LSC at Ray, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., joined several other schools around the city in rejecting the 2013-2014 school year budget proposed by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in attempts to dissolve its deficit. At Thursday’s meeting, Ray Principal Toni Hill reported that CPS added an additional $100,000 to its school budget and the board voted to accept the updated budget for the school year.
Ray LSC chairman Gordon Mayer said that the increase would allow the school to “plug in some holes.”
“We went into the summer with a lot of uncertainty,” Mayer said. “In the end we are grateful that Ray received greater resources and fewer cuts than many others, but I still believe the CPS budget is unfair and the city should provide [tax increment finance districts] surpluses to the school system.”
Ray was one of two schools set to receive extra funding as welcoming schools for Canter Middle School, 4959 S. Blackstone Ave., which CPS planned to close the next school year. After several hearings, CPS chose to keep Canter open and start a one-year phase out process but Ray still had to add 7th grade this year to receive students graduating from Shoesmith Elementary School, 1330 E. 50th St., and will add 8th grade the following school year. At its June meeting, Hill reported that the school’s designation was changed to receiving school and despite the additions in space, services and curriculum that must be covered, Ray’s budget had been reduced between $400,00 and $500,000.
While the school received a modest boost in its budget, it continues to struggle to provide a full range of educational opportunities. It is currently polling parents to choose between a music and art teacher, as its limited resources will only allow for one of the positions to be filled.
The next Ray LSC meeting will take place on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. Hill’s next “Principal’s Coffee Chat” will take place at 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 19.