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CPS Borrows $275M to make pension payment
Our district has gone the way of borrowing again at a high interest rate instead of releasing more TIF funds or raising revenue. (CPS is owed over $400M in long-overdue state aid but waited until weeks before CPS payments were due to act.) In addition, the state has not sorted out their K-12 budget yet, the Governor says he’ll veto the school funding formula bill passed by the House and Senate, and we have no idea what the plan is from our elected leaders to fund our schools adequately and equitably. One thing for sure, borrowing at high interest is not a good solution.
Regarding the state formula funding bill, SB1, Raise Your Hand thinks it’s critical to change the formula but it needs to be in conjunction with raising revenue to add to the formula. We have a state that hasn’t passed a budget in over 700 days, social service agencies that are being shut down and public universities laying off staff, and so it’s hard to believe that this state is going to inject the needed funding into a school funding bill right now. That said, we support SB1, we are just aware that it’s not going to solve the problem of IL being last in what the state kicks in to school funding without the addition of significant revenue.
You can read the CTBA’s factsheet on SB1 here.
What can you do? Continue to push on your city and state elected officials for real revenue solutions:
Call your alderman and ask why it is ok to borrow money at exorbitant interest rates rather than using the surplus in the city’s TIF funds.
Call Governor Rauner and tell him to pass a budget with revenue and then sign SB1: 217-782-0244
Status of the House and Senate on these issues: The Senate passed a budget with revenue and voted to pass SB1. The House passed SB1 but did not pass a budget. Members of the House need to hear from constituents to pass a budget with revenue. (Find your state rep’s phone number here.)
Community meetings on closing National Teachers Academy
CPS wants to close NTA, move its students to South Loop Elementary and open a new neighborhood high school in the NTA building. There have been a couple community meetings so far, including one last night at South Loop Elementary. For a recap of that meeting, you can read Generation All’s storified tweets from the meeting here. There will be another community meeting on Monday July 10th, 5 -7pm at NTA, 55 W. Cermak Road.
Raise Your Hand’s position continues to be that CPS needs—and is legally required to have—an actual, honest, long-term, overarching facilities plan that would drive capital spending. There must be a transparent, equitable process for determining educational facilities needs and capital spending in CPS. The situation here in the South Loop is yet another example of the fundamental flaws in how facility and school action decisions are made in Chicago.
South Side Weekly: Who Controls South Loop Schools?
PBS airs anti-public education propaganda series
This spring PBS has been showing a series School, Inc. It was created and written by a senior fellow at the right-wing think tank, the Cato Institute. The series argues for privatization of the public school system using examples from around the world, like Korean cram schools, Sweden’s free schools, and a private high school in Michigan that charges $33K a year in tuition.
You can read a critique of the series from Amy Shuffleton, a CPS parent and Loyola University Chicago professor.
The Network for Public Education has a quick form letter you can send to PBS protesting their showing this one-sided attack on public education.
Chicago’s PBS affiliate WTTW aired this series on their WTTW World channel in April. You can leave them a comment using their online feedback form here.
In other news
State Journal-Register: Opinion: State testing issues remain
Elgin Courier News: Questions remain as charter school deadline set for June 30. District U-46 soon to vote on final contract for their first charter school