Chicago Public Schools Releases Capital Improvement Plan

May 17, 2012 - 4:39pm

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On May 2, 2012, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) released a capital budget via a new interactive website. The proposed capital improvement plan (CIP) includes a FY2013 capital budget and a five-year capital plan for FY2013-FY2017. In addition, the plan describes CPS’ 165 ongoing capital projects and their statuses. These projects total approximately $765 million and have been ongoing since 2006.

The website features a summary page for each project included under the capital plan. The project summaries provide information regarding a project’s type and category, status, amount budgeted and corresponding budget year, anticipated start and completion dates, funding source and the purpose and scope of the project. As an example, below is a project summary page from the CIP for Lane Tech High School.


FY2013 Capital Budget

The FY2013 capital budget of $109.7 million will be funded with $69 million from CPS resources, $40 million from the City of Chicago’s new Infrastructure Trust and $1 million from outside grants. New initiatives under the FY2013 capital plan include:
• $3.6 million for playgrounds;
• $5.2 million in preparations for Early College Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum at Michelle Clark, Corliss and Lakeview High Schools;
• $13.7 million in IT upgrades;
• $5.0 million in chimney repairs and maintenance;
• $4.5 million in building renovations at Oriole Park Elementary School ($2.5 million) and Higgins Academy ($2.0 million); and
• $39.9 million in energy performance improvements, funded primarily by the Infrastructure Trust and grants.

FY2013-FY2017 Capital Budget

The FY2013-FY2017 capital plan totals approximately $813.6 million. The proposed budgets for each year of the multi-year plan are:
• $109.7 million in FY2013;
• $97.9 million in FY2014;
• $203.1 million in FY2015;
• $201.0 million in FY2016; and
• $201.9 million in FY2017.

In fiscal years 2014-2017, CPS plans to renovate 59 schools through building envelope renovations ($242.6 million), mechanical and electrical renovations ($149.1 million) and major renovations ($67.5 million). In FY2014 CPS plans to conduct a major renovation of the current City Colleges of Chicago’s Malcolm X College campus as it will become the site of the Chicago High School for the Arts after Malcolm X transitions to its new home in FY2015. Schools also identified for major renovations include: Sumner Academy (FY2015), Pilsen Academy (FY2016) and Tanner School and Ross School (FY2017).

The CIP allocates annual funding for several other major initiatives, which include $3.6 million for playgrounds (included under Facility Site Improvements), $10.0 million for IT investments and upgrades, $5.0 million in chimney repairs and maintenance and $500,000 in FY2013-FY2015 and $10.0 million in FY2016-FY2017 in projects to improve accessibility options under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Planning and Prioritization

The capital plan includes a brief explanation of the rationale for identifying and prioritizing capital needs through the CPS district, as well as a new model timeline for updating the capital budget on an annual basis. The rationale is based on recent changes to the State of Illinois’ School Code, or Public Act 97-0474, which provides guidelines and standards for master capital planning for schools and the development of an Educational Facilities Master Plan. CPS’ Master Plan is expected to be released on January 1, 2013.

The following chart illustrates the annual capital budget timeline established by CPS.

Chicago Public Schools Annual Capital Budget Timeline



January 1
Publish list of all property owned by or leased to CPS on CPS website

Project assessment, needs analysis and formal approval process

May 1
Release of 1-Year and 5-Year CIP

October 1
Release of Annual Capital Expenditure

January 1
Release of Preliminary 10-Year Educational Facility Master Plan

July 1
Approval of 10-Year Educational Facility Master Plan

The timeline does not include public review; however, the press release announcing the capital budget states that public input will be accepted via the website and at public hearings – dates and times have yet to be announced. Public testimony on the capital plan will also be permitted at the FY2013 budget hearings as the Board of Education will vote on approval of the capital budget and FY2013 budget at the same time.

Civic Federation Position

In past years the Civic Federation has strongly urged CPS to develop a formal CIP. The Federation supported the action taken by the General Assembly and Governor Quinn to enact Public Act 97-0474, or SB630, signed by the governor on August 22, 2011.  The legislation requires that the District develop a capital needs evaluation process and one- and five-year CIPs.

Best Practices and Recommended Practices in School District Capital Improvement Planning

The National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting (NACSLB) and the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) have developed best practices in capital improvement planning. In addition, the State of Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) and the Civic Federation have developed several recommended practices in this policy area. A summary of the key recommendations of these practices follows.

1. Develop a Formal Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan
All governments should develop a five-year CIP that identifies priorities, provides a timeline for completing projects and identifies funding sources for projects. The CIP should be updated annually and be approved formally by the governing body.[3]

2. Required Information in a Capital Improvement Plan
A CIP should include the following information: [4]
A five-year summary list of projects and expenditures per project as well as funding sources per project;
Information about the impact of capital spending on the annual operating budget for each project;
Brief narrative descriptions of individual projects, including the purpose, need, history and current status of each project; and
• The time frame for fulfilling capital projects and priorities.

3. Make Capital Improvement Plan Publicly Available
The CIP should be made publicly available for review by elected officials and citizens. It should be published in the budget document or in a separate capital improvement plan. The CIP should be made available on the government’s website. The public should be permitted at least ten working days to review the CIP prior to a public hearing.[5]

4. Provide Opportunities for Stakeholder Input into Capital Improvement Planning Process
It is important to consider the views of stakeholders, including taxpayers, in developing a CIP. To achieve this goal, stakeholders should have opportunities to provide input into the development of the CIP. These opportunities could include participation in citizen advisory committees and/or hearings during different phases of CIP development. The governing body should hold a public hearing prior to adoption of the CIP, including opportunities for citizen commentary.[6]

5. Require Formal Approval of Capital Improvement Plan by School District Board of Trustees
The CIP should be formally approved by an appropriate governing body. It is imperative that elected officials be fully aware and supportive of long-term plans that commit significant public resources.[7]

CPS should examine its previous CIPs, as well as best practice models from other jurisdictions, for the development of a new CIP.[8]

Chicago Public Schools, Capital Improvement Plan for Fiscal Years 2013-2017,
Chicago Public Schools, Board of Education meeting, April 25, 2012.

[1] Building envelope renovations include maintenance and repairs to roofs, chimneys, masonry and windows. Major renovations encompass both building envelope and mechanical and electrical renovations.
This discussion is excerpted from Metropolitan Mayors Caucus. Strengthening the Financial Accountability of Illinois School Districts: A Report of the Education Reform Committee of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, April 2007, pp. 30-34.
[3] See NACSLB Recommended Practice 9.6: Develop a Capital Improvement Plan, the State of Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, Best Financial Management Practices, Facilities Construction. The State of Florida requires school districts to prepare comprehensive Five-Year Educational Plan Surveys. This is Point 1. d. of the Facilities Construction: Construction Planning Best Financial Management Practices Guidelines for School Districts. Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA). Best Financial Management Practices. See
[4] Ibid; See Point 3. a to c. of the Facilities Construction: Construction Planning best financial management practices guidelines for school districts. Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA). Best Financial Management Practices. See
[5] See NACSLB Recommended Practice 9.6: Develop a Capital Improvement Plan, Civic Federation Budget Analyses of Local Government Budgets – various years.
[6] Ibid.
[7] See Civic Federation Budget Analyses of Local Government Budgets – various years.
[8] For an example, see the 1996-2000 Capital Improvement Plan adopted by the Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees on January 24, 1996.

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