Catalyst’s calculations

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SPENDING DATA Spending data were drawn from reports generated by the School Board’s Office of Management and Budget on $377 million in contracts let through mid-April. Catalyst excluded overcrowding relief projects like new schools and mobile units. Board officials say these reports do not reflect some work—they can’t say how much—done at schools but recorded as central office spending.

NEED DATA Need data were drawn from a 1995 survey by the McClier Corporation, which catalogs more than 40,000 repairs needed in more than 500 school buildings. Although the report is over two years old and leaves out several dozen buildings—some new, some recently repaired—it is the board’s only comprehensive guide to the condition of its physical plant.

The McClier report includes a wide range of needed improvements, from such basics as tuckpointing to such incidentals as new flag poles. In its analysis, Catalyst weeded out items that did not address life, health and safety concerns or the structural integrity of buildings. To make that determination, staff consulted with officials from the Illinois State Board of Education, which supervises districts outside Chicago in their efforts to prioritize spending on life, health and safety-related school repairs. Staff from the McClier corporation and the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group also were consulted.

The Catalyst analysis excluded most site work (flagpoles, school signs, basketball hoops, wrought iron fences, etc.), painting, ceiling and floor finishes, air conditioning, educational equipment (PA systems, clocks, chalkboards, etc.), auditorium repairs, security systems, interior doors, window guards, lockers, roof access ladders, miscellaneous gym work, blinds and shades, library shelving, cabinetry, re-configuring classrooms, demolition and the removal of incinerators and underground storage tanks and a few other items.

CALCULATIONS Finally, Catalyst divided each school’s spending total and its need total by the number of square feet in a school. As a result, the analysis looks at the intensity of spending and need.