* Politico yesterday morning on the elected Chicago school board proposals…
The mayor, meanwhile, wants to keep the decision-making under her purview. The current system makes the mayor accountable for school performance and, in turn, the $500 million the city doles out to CPS. There’s some question about what happens to that $500 million if the mayor isn’t in charge of schools. Would the state pay instead?
This threat was first made shortly before the House passed its bill the other day. So I reached out to the city to ask them for an explanation. I didn’t get a response back until late yesterday afternoon and decided to wait until today.
* From the city…
• The City of Chicago financially subsidizes Chicago Public Schools (CPS) with a variety of direct and indirect supports of students and district operations and has done so for many years.
• The biggest part of these financial subsidies is the contribution that the City is required to make per on behalf of CPS for the employer pension contributions to the Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago (MEABF) for their non-teaching staff. This will grow to over $400 million in 2024.
o These financial subsidies are governed by the Pension Code of IL statute.
• The City also financially backs capital projects funded by property tax dollars to modernize CPS buildings.
• The total financial supports are estimated at $326 million in 2021, and will grow to $583 million by 2024.
• These financial supports to CPS will exceed the direct financial support that the state provides to all public universities except the University of Illinois in FY21.
• These are high levels of financial supports, and means that the Mayor needs a stake in the governance of CPS moving forward.
* Um, MEABF was created in 1921, long before the mayor was given complete control of CPS. And the split is 44 percent city employees and 56 percent from the board of education, according to MEABF. Teachers have their own pension fund.
For the city to now say that if the mayor doesn’t get her way then state taxpayers ought to fund city worker pensions (including aldermen) because the city wants to stop paying for something they’ve been responsible for (and grossly underfunded) during the past century is quite something. More details about the fund’s precarious state are here.
And as far as the capital funding goes, the city created that obligation itself.
* Politico tried to clean up its mess today…
Martwick pushed back against criticism we wrote about yesterday that an elected school board could eliminate or diminish the power of local school councils or voices of undocumented parents. The LSCs would still be in place, and undocumented parents can be part of them. They can’t, however, vote in general elections so they would be excluded from sitting on the school board. “That’s a separate issue” that would only complicate the bill that’s in play, Martwick said, who thinks LSCs can still flourish under a school board. He added that Latino Caucus members wouldn’t have signed on to support the bill if they thought immigrant voices were stifled. Rep. Delia Ramirez, for example, has carried the House version of the bill.
Martwick also dismissed the idea that an elected school board would prevent the city from paying $500 million it owes to Chicago Public Schools for pensions. Critics of his bill worry that taking the mayor out of the equation to run schools would eliminate accountability for such a payment. Martwick says “that’s what elections are for — to hold people accountable.”
* Also, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin has been one of Mayor Lightfoot’s biggest supporters since her election. The two are personal friends and go way back. Most of his members had long voted for an elected school board, but they flip-flopped this year on Leader Ramirez’s bill.
I asked Durkin’s spokesperson yesterday if the House GOP Leader supports the mayor’s proposal to allow non-citizens to run for school board. I was told that he hasn’t reviewed it yet.