Is your school getting part of an $820M update?

The district released its 2019-2020 budget on Thursday, unveiling an $820 million capital plan to fix up old school buildings. About $1 in every $7 spent will go toward a universal pre-K expansion, and the rest will go for new roofs, playgrounds, and athletic fields.

The capital plan, which also includes $30 million in new science labs and an $85 million expansion of high-speed internet and other tech upgrades, was “created with a focus on equity, prioritizing the schools and neighborhoods that need investments most,” Lightfoot said.

Outside of the capital plan, the district will spend $6.18 billion in 2019-20, a slight increase from last fiscal year. The new line items announced Thursday include $12 million for teachers and curriculum materials for English language learners and $10 million to boost accessibility for disabled students.

Read our story and find the full list of schools expected to receive upgrades at Chalkbeat Chicago.

We’re Cassie Walker Burke, Adeshina Emmanuel, Yana Kunichoff and intern Catherine Henderson, and we’re rounding up Chicago public education news for the week. Please send any tips, story ideas, or general shoutouts our way:

Want to see early childhood education investments get a prime discussion spot at a national event? Voting is open for a 2020 SXSWEdu Panel on the topic, and it would feature our own Cassie Walker Burke. 

Week in review 

Lightfoot’s optimism: Lori Lightfoot sounded a positive note about a resolution in contract negotiations with the teacher’s union on Thursday, previewing a fact-finder’s report expected to be public later this month. Read the latest at Chalkbeat Chicago. 

Smoothing access: To help pave the way to college, a new state law will require Illinois high school seniors to complete an application for federal student aid in order to graduate. Chalkbeat Chicago has more. 

Towards a living wage: The governor’s office is proposing an answer for how much to pay underpaid early childhood educators: $40,000 for new teachers with college degrees. Chalkbeat Chicago has the breakdown. 

Goodbye, basic skills test: Amid an ongoing teacher shortage, Illinois will scrap a basic skills test that it has long required aspiring teachers to pass but that critics have argued poses a barrier to candidates of color. Chalkbeat Chicago caught up with the shift. 

Not enough nurses: A certified school nurse says the district desperately needs more people with his skills. Chalkbeat Chicago published his first-person view. 

Voices from the leadership: After Chicago tried to close Dyett High School for the Arts and a group of parents and community members staged a hunger strike to save it, this principal helped heal the Chicago school. Now she is leaving. Chalkbeat looked at her legacy and plans. 

Looking abroad: Visits to schools abroad enriched this Chicago teacher’s enthusiasm for social and emotional learning. Now she’s telling her story in hopes of inspiring others. 

Charter welcome: Charter schools in some cities enroll few students mid-year. That may give charters a performance boost over the district schools they often compete with. Chalkbeat’s national team talked to charters around the country. 

Assessing the teacher gap: Almost a third of 520 district-run schools had at least one regular or special education teacher position open all year long. And schools with black and low-income students is twice as likely to have a teacher missing all year, while schools with majority white students had none. Read the analysis from WBEZ. 

Looking ahead

Come party with us: We can’t believe it either, but Chicago’s first day of school is just around the corner. Join Chalkbeat Chicago on Aug. 27 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for beer, food, and storytelling. RVSP here. 

Bud Billiken parade: Chicago’s historic Bud Billiken parade celebrates 90 years of floats and marching bands taking over Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The parade will also have free school supplies and raise money for scholarships and offers a variety of back-to-school services at a festival in Washington Park.  

Back-to-school bashes party on: There are four more Chicago Public Schools back-to-school bashes across the city where families can celebrate the start of the school year, get free backpacks, supplies, and even immunizations. Find the full lineup here. 

State board meeting: The Illinois State Board of Education is back from its summer hiatus with a meeting planned for Wednesday, August 14


Congrats to the more than 30 Chicago students from grades 7 to 9 spent the day building and programming robots as part of the Engineering Camp at Von Steuben Metropolitan Science High School. The students programmed their robots to drive over bridges, pass through tunnels and even open gates.