The Chicago Archdiocese has requested help from parents and supporters after losing federal and state funds to operate preschools in 24 of its Catholic Schools.
In a letter from School Superintendent Jim Rigg, he explains more than 600 children ages 3 and 4 will be impacted by the funding cuts to take place Dec. 1.
According to Rigg, "the decision of the City has resulted in a significant injustice to our families." He asked for supporters to contact Mayor Lori Lightfoot, DFSS Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler and others.
As NBC 5 has reported, with Chicago Public Schools now offering free preschool, changes have been made in the funding formula for longtime preschool providers like the Archdiocese and other Community Based Organizations.
Read Rigg's letter below.
Dear School Board Members,
I am writing to enlist your help in an important issue facing our Catholic schools. For the past 13 years, several of our schools have participated in the state-funded Preschool for All (PFA) program. This program enables high poverty families to enroll in high quality preschool programs, many in Catholic schools, with tuition costs offset by the state. For the 24 Catholic school-based PFA programs in the City of Chicago, the program is administered by the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) (our suburban programs are administered differently).
Last month, we learned that DFSS was denying us funding for PFA in the City of Chicago for FY20. Funding will run out on Nov. 30. Unfortunately, this decision will affect over 600 three and four-year-old children (and their families) in 24 of our Catholic schools. In most cases, these families decided to enroll in their school months ago.
We have spent the last several days appealing this decision through City Hall, but to no avail. As such, we informed our families of the decision this week. We are encouraging our families, teachers, principals, and others to contact the Mayor, DFSS Commissioner, and other public officials to encourage them to reverse their decision (or at least postpone this decision for FY20).
I know that many of our School Board members have political connections within our City. I therefore encourage you to contact Mayor Lightfoot, DFSS Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler, and others. To assist you, I have included the letter to our PFA families explaining the decision, as well as template letters to city and state officials. I’ve also attached my own letter to Commissioner Butler. Please note that, in addition to Mayor Lightfoot and Commissioner Butler, we are also reaching out to Dr. Carmen Ayala (State Superintendent), Mr. Darren Reisberg (Chair of the Illinois State Board of Education) and local aldermen/women. If you have a personal relationship with any of these individuals, I particularly encourage you to reach out to them about this issue.
The decision of the City has resulted in a significant injustice to our families. I invite you to join us in making our voices heard. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.