Our schools have so much to be proud of - the accomplishments of our students, the great work of our teachers, the commitment of our administrators, and the engagement of our parent communities. But the instability of CPS cannot continue without negatively impacting our communities and our city as a whole. Operating in continual crisis mode seems to have become the new normal - and this is unacceptable.
As you may have heard, CPS passed a budget with a $480 million deficit this year, and has publicly stated our schools could face additional budget cuts, resulting in the elimination of programs and teacher layoffs. This budget was passed after the state k-12 education budget was passed, allocating funding for CPS this year.
In terms of addressing the current CPS crisis, unfortunately there is no quick or easy fix. The problems are complex and the path forward unclear.
The purpose of the powerpoint is to provide an overview as to how schools are funded in Illinois, what role the State plays, and how funds are allocated to individual districts. The link to download this powerpoint can be found below.
A few facts first:
1) The K-12 State education budget for the current fiscal year was actually passed. In fact, it was the only portion of the budget that was passed and funded. So, passage of the rest of the State budget will not specifically address the shortfall in CPS’ budget this school year. CPS is seeking additional revenue above and beyond the funds allocated in this year’s budget in the amount of $480 million; or alternatively, the authority to postpone pension obligations to free up funds.
2) The funding inequity referenced by CPS is a reference to how teacher pensions are funded by the State. Since the 1800s, Chicago has had its own pension system, and there were no efforts to merge with the with the state pension system because the city's system was better funded in comparison. This changed when the Chicago “pension levy” – a portion of tax revenues dedicated solely to pay pensions – was eliminated. CPS was then able to take pension “holidays” and avoid paying its pension obligations for many years, choosing to use these funds for other purposes. This, in large part, has contributed to the crisis CPS is facing today.
3) In addition to addressing the immediate cash crisis, it is critical we find solutions for the long-term stability of CPS, including revamping our antiquated school funding formula to decrease our reliance on property tax revenues, increasing funding for education overall and ensuring Chicago students consistently get their fair share of tax dollars.
I am committed to doing whatever I can to ensure our schools have the resources they need to provide our students the best education possible. But it’s clear that all of the decisionmakers - state and city officials, members of the Board of Education, the Mayor, and the Governor - need to come together now to prioritize our schools and avert this crisis.
CPS Funding Factsheet: