Legislators increased the Early Childhood Block Grant, a line item in the state’s budget, by $30 million, bringing the total for next year to $214 million. The increased funding will pay for an additional 25,000 3- and 4-year-olds who are considered at risk for academic failure to enroll in state pre-kindergarten programs over the next three years.
Practically speaking, the most important change was the turnover in the Senate. Under former Senate President James “Pate” Philip’s control, many proposals affecting Chicago schools could never get a hearing. Last year, for instance, Republicans prevented a vote on the compromise between the CTU and CPS over collective bargaining rights, even though lawmakers in both houses agreed to approve the bill.
CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union have named the 10 poor performing schools that will have one year to turn around achievement or risk closure. The so-called partnership elementary schools are Attucks, Bass, Burke, Chalmers, Delano, Hartigan, Medill and Raymond. The high schools are Richards and Collins. Under an agreement finalized by CPS and CTU in April, the schools will receive additional instructional and monetary resources to improve academic standing.