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#523 Online: Chicago Public Schools - Enrollment Decline but Budget Stability


Forest Gregg (he/him)
Denali Dasgupta (she/her)

Every school year in Chicago brings fresh notebooks, new shoes, and a series of lightly worried trend pieces about declining enrollment in Chicago Public Schools.

These stories treat enrollment as a vital sign for the district, the city, and the tax base’s health. The basic structure is that if enrollment declines then so will revenue, which will inevitably lead to budget and service cuts. But is it true?

This year marked the 20th consecutive year of declining enrollment for Chicago Public Schools: a good opportunity to dig into the idea of enrollment as a vital sign. The first question is what is driving the decrease and what will happen in the next 5-years to enrollment?

The second question is: given the steady decline in enrollment, is the budget shrinking? Denali Dasgupta and Forest Gregg took the revenue streams for CPS from the budget book and coded them along two dimensions: their source and their enrollment dependence. Putting the pieces together, they discovered that enrollment can continue to decline with little impact on revenue, at least at the district level. This decoupling invites Chicagoans to think about the fiscal challenges and opportunities for a shrinking, but financially stable school district.

This presentation will include information about scoping exploratory administrative data analysis to examine assumptions and narratives. It is full of exciting demographic and public finance data and analysis.

ASL This event will not have an American Sign Language interpreter.