Chicago Public Schools has asked a Cook County judge on Monday to fast-track the district’s civil rights lawsuit against the state of Illinois, warning of dire consequences for students if a funding issue isn’t resolved quickly.
More than $100 million in the red and on the hook for a $721 million teacher pension payment in June, CPS said it could cut the school year as short as June 1 if money doesn’t come through soon from the state. Students typically end school a few weeks later.
The district recently filed a civil rights lawsuit against Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois State Board of Education, alleging that the state’s ways of funding schools and pensions created “separate but unequal” schools systems in which CPS, whose students are predominantly poor and minority, get less money than their wealthier, white counterparts elsewhere in the state.
District officials are asking Judge Franklin Valderrama to issue a ruling before the end of April.
Forrest Claypool has scheduled a 4 o’clock press conference today, so I’m assuming he’ll blame a potentially shortened school year on Gov. Rauner. The school year had been scheduled to end June 20th.
* There’s lots of Rauner-blaming in the CPS motion. For instance…
As a first step toward ending the State’s discriminatory funding of teacher pension obligations, on June 30, 2016, the Illinois House amended Senate Bill 2822 to include an additional State contribution of $215 million to assist CPS to meet its required Fiscal Year 2017 teacher pension payment of $721 million. Even that $215 million pension funding for CPS would stand in stark contrast to the State’s projected Fiscal Year 2017 payment to TRS of $4.0 billion. Amended Senate Bill 2822 passed both houses of the General Assembly.
But on December 1, 2016, Governor Rauner vetoed the bill. Governor Rauner stated that he had agreed to support the bill only if the General Assembly agreed to his other demands on legislation having nothing to do with CPS. As a result, CPS’s children - 90% children of color - are at risk of forever losing their one chance in life to receive a quality education. Prior to the veto, CPS already had taken drastic measures to meet its budget obligations and educate its students. At the end of Fiscal Year 2013, CPS had a positive general operating fund balance of $949 million. By the end of Fiscal Year 2016, CPS had depleted all of that reserve and ended with a negative general operating fund balance of $127 million. In other words, CPS’s general operating fund balance has declined by $1.1 billion in just three years. Over that same time period, CPS made required pension payments totaling $1.9 billion. In that same three years, the State’s discriminatory funding has shortchanged CPS by $1.1 billion. […]
The February 22 budget cuts do not fill the $215 million hole created by Governor Rauner’s veto. If CPS must re-balance its budget by making additional cuts, those cuts will be even more painful. If CPS ends the school year on June 1 - instead of June 20 - students will receive fewer days of instruction. If students are not in class, they forever lose those days of learning. There is no way to compensate for missed time in the classroom. If CPS eliminates summer school for grade-school and middle-school students, those children will not receive the additional instruction they require to get on track. Those children are at risk of falling even farther behind.
*** UPDATE *** From Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis…
As children statewide continue to be impacted by the state’s broken school funding formula, now is the time for CEO Claypool to engage in a constructive process to pass a balanced budget with changes that would help schools across the state, including those in Chicago.