RYH Statement to Chicago Board of Education

24 June 2015 - Testimony from Wendy Katten

Good evening. Regarding the horrible CPS fiscal situation we are in, RYH created a document with a list of multi-pronged solutions, as we know there is not one approach to fix this mess. The state, city and CPS all need to be part of the solution.  

The state hasn’t paid into the CTPF for over 25 years as it claimed it would do, and we are asking parents to call their legislators about this.

The city can reform their tif program, shut down some of the districts that no longer meet the “but for the TIF” definition, and should return a much larger TIF surplus this year as a bridge to get through this crisis. You can and should be advocates for tif reform.

Regarding CPS’s role, I won’t belabor how this crisis has been precipitated but will ask that you stop new non-essential spending and put a hold on charter and selective enrollment expansion during this fiscal crisis and time of declining enrollment. No one in their right mind  would put an addition on their house when they can't pay their heating bill. Classroom cuts should not occur, especially  if this kind of new spending is affordable.  In addition, we’ve outlined $177M in contracts that we think you should review out of the $1.1 billion the district is spending on contracts. Just as we asked you to cut the SUPES contract for 2 years, we're asking you to look at these contracts that are on our website. I’ve copied a few things where you can see that the district has agreed to pay some consultants at rates as high as $825/hour, often to do test prep and other questionable PD.

Quality PD is obviously essential to our schools and we also recognize that federal funds cannot be used for just any operating cost, but must we really pay NWEA consultants $282.50/hour and Houghton Mifflin $325/hour, a company that the IG recommended you stop doing business with in 2013?

We also ask that you push the city to end the $39M payment to the Chicago Police Department. This money could be better spent on restorative justice and other social-emotional learning initiatives.

Thank you.