RYH at the CPS Amended Budget Hearings and City Council: Local Revenue Needed!

This was a busy week for RYH!

On Tuesday, October 10, we spoke at the two CPS Amended Budget Meetings. On Wednesday, October 11, we spoke at the City Council meeting. Below are our statements.

Deb Haas, RYH Board Member

Deb spoke at both CPS amended budget hearings. This statement is a combination of the two statements. With only 2 minutes to speak, we used both hearings to say as much as possible in 4 minutes.

Please note: 

The amended budget cuts over $143 million and over 530 positions from district-run schools. But charters receive $53 million more, with $37 million due to the new state law without the state providing separate, dedicated revenue to fund it. It is unacceptable that over half the district-run schools see cuts of $200,000 or more but the TIF surplus CPS receives is $65 million less than last year.

Here is Deb's statement:

My name is Deb Hass. I’m a CPS parent and a board member of RYH. I’m here because we have many concerns about the revised budget.

The revision to increase funding for charter schools is required by the state law you promoted that binds you to pay higher costs without a binding source of revenue to offset them. With legislators like Pritchard quoted in the press saying it will be nearly impossible for the state to make full payments to school districts in the future, CPS is increasing its budget to give $37 million to charters, but nothing to district schools, without any analysis of real need at the school level. At the same time, schools across the district suffer from gross underfunding that you refuse to recognize and address. This budget does nothing to address the chronic underfunding and years of baked-in cuts you have imposed.

Where is the urgency to address the desperate need for an increase to per pupil funding for district schools? Only 25 of 167 CPS high schools have librarians. We lack sufficient counselors, nurses, special ed teachers and aides. This  board fails to provide a high-quality education for all. Why isn’t more money being spent on the students at Kelly HS who lost 25 teachers and staff this year? Or Ellington elementary, a so-called “welcoming school” in Austin that lost 11 positions? Or Courtenay, another “welcoming” school that lost 8 positions? The list goes on and on.

You are acting in such a rush you also failed to be transparent. These hearings were not even listed on the CPS on-line calendar. None are scheduled WHEN most parents can attend or WHERE they can attend. I ask each of you board members to think back to the last time you participated in one of these budget meetings in a neighborhood? Can you think of even one? President Clark, have you ever attended a single meeting in a neighborhood location? Come to where we are when we can participate and fight for what our schools need.

A fully revised budget book was not posted on the CPS website in advance and the “interactive reports” do not show the changes between the original and amended budget, making comparisons nearly impossible. For example, the revised budget claims $55 million in debt and purchasing changes, but no details are given.

In its amended budget, the City of Chicago will provide only $80 million of the $269 million in further local resources it promised in the original budget. It is absurd that the only support for schools will come in the form of police services. The TIF surplus CPS receives in this budget is $65 million less than last year. You should be pushing for the Mayor to declare a much larger TIF surplus. You should be fighting for revenue for all CPS students. Your willingness to negotiate ongoing district expenses without fighting for more revenue to meet the educational needs of our students — and the lack of transparency in the process — violate the trust between this board and stakeholders and taxpayers of the city.

 

Mary Hughes, RYH Board Member & Director of 19th Ward Parents for Special Education

Mary spoke during public comment at the City Council meeting. We joined our friends at Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Parents4Teachers, Action Now and Northside Action for Justice at the City Council meeting on Wednesday and returned again on Thursday for the City Council Finance Committee because the city has backtracked on their promise to add $269M in local funding to schools this year. They claim the state funding bill is sufficient, but we know that our schools are not fully funded in any way, shape or form.

Due to a clock malfunction, Mary was able to speak for longer than the 3 minutes allotted. You can view video of Mary's speech here.

Here is the text of Mary's statement:

Hello.  My name is Mary Fahey Hughes, I am a CPS parent of 4, a Board Member of Raise Your Hand and Director of 19th Ward Parents for Special Education.

I am here to ask this body to make a commitment to rebuild and invest in our schools so that each and every CPS school reflects our status of being a “World Class City.”  Chicago is a “World Class City” when it comes to floating taxpayer-funded deals to sweeten the pot for multi-billion dollar successful and established corporations like Amazon, Walgreens and Marriott, but when it comes to paying for a decent education for ALL of Chicago’s children,  this body, the CPS board of education and the Mayor can’t find adequate revenue and our neediest students suffer.  We’ve seen cuts in classroom staffing, nurses, social workers, behavior specialists, elimination of art and music, ballooning classroom sizes and systemic, dangerous and even deadly special education cuts.

Systemic special education cost-cutting policies have been rolled out over the past several years that have worked to gut special education   

  • Special ed funding at the school level doesn’t often match need anymore

  • There a is a burdensome appeals process that works to make obtaining services difficult and discriminates against Black and Hispanic children in low-income neighborhoods

  • There is a layer of highly-paid middle-management special-ed-administrators who are mostly funding gate-keepers with little knowledge of individual student need

  • There are toddlers transitioning out of Early Intervention into CPS who are being denied IEP’s

  • There are new and arbitrary busing boundaries designed to diminish federally mandated busing service for students who have special needs  

  • There is a systemic and chilling stranglehold on special education funding for new IEPs

Please stop advancing the lie that CPS schools have sufficient revenue to provide a decent educational opportunity for ALL of its students.The city  has backtracked on it’s promise to provide $269M in funding for our schools and now only wants to cover funding for police positions in CPS?   With the passage of SB1947 -- that was supposed to address funding inequity -- our CPS schools are still desperate for additional revenue.

State Legislative leaders like Bob Pritchard have already said that it is unlikely that the State will have the money to fund the the new formula next year, leaving the need for procurement and dispersal of education funds, squarely in your laps.

There have been an unprecedented amount of TIF dollars collected this year.  Chicago is one of the most affluent cities in the nation, where 6 out of every 100 households has an income of over $1M, yet we have a school system with egregious gaps in funding not reflective of the wealth of this city ---leaving us a school system of have and have-nots.  This is currently a City that gives lip service to the idea that it values public education for our neediest students.  I ask you to free the TIF funds and show the children of Chicago that the grown ups here believe they are worth investing in and that we are, indeed, a World Class City.

If you have the money for Amazon, you have the money for sustainable community schools. Aldermen, pass TIF and Corporate Head Tax NOW!

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