The Weekly Ed Update- 9.1.17: School funding bill signed into law- what does it mean?

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School funding bill signed into law - what does it mean?

A final agreement on school funding was finally signed into law yesterday, and it’s a real mixed bag.

On the plus side:
  1. CPS received $221M in pension parity. As we’ve shared, the state has failed to cover CPS pensions for decades.

  2. CPS gets $76M from the new funding formula.

  3. School districts around the state with much lower funding than CPS will see increases to their budgets based on this new formula.

While this bill has been dubbed a "bailout" for CPS by many, this is highly inaccurate. The state was supposed to be paying 20% of what they pay for non-Chicago pensions (TRS) for years, and that would yield over $700M this year.

The negatives:
  1. IL now has a neo-voucher program that gives wealthy donors a massive tax break for donating to private and religious school scholarship funds. A donor can send $1M to a fund and get a $750k tax break for it. This is bad for the public good in IL, a state that didn’t have a budget for years and has billions in unnpaid bills.

  2. There is a charter funding increase in this bill that has received almost no news coverage.  According to WBEZ yesterday, INCS reported that this will lead to a $2k increase per pupil at charter schools. We think that’ number is too high, but we’re still working on getting the details.

  3. The school funding bill calls for $6B over 10 years to meet adequacy in funding but the bill does not mandate this money. This is a big problem. There are $350M in new dollars for schools this year but that doesn’t scratch the surface.  The state was supposed to pay into CPS pensions for years and it’s written in statute, but we see how that turned out when it wasn’t mandated.

  4. The lack of debate on major policy changes. This bill was shoved through at the last minute and our legislators did not properly debate it before voting. There was no debate on vouchers, charter increases, or much of anything else. It seems the legislative leaders presented a 500 page bill with no time to read it,  in crisis mode after schools had not received payments. This is no way to enact major policy change.

So what does this mean for CPS?

CPS will get around $325M from the state and the ability to raise property taxes by about $125M but they are still short about $150M to pay their bills for this year!  Keep in mind, CPS has made massive cuts the last two years, and the new normal is way too low. We still need to push for progressive revenue at the local level.  CPS also incorporated savings by closing a huge number of vacancies for special ed teachers in the budgets—among other things that impact quality of education for all students.

WBEZ: Chicago Charter Schools Could Win Big With New Education Funding Law

Sun-TimesEmanuel says property tax hike needed to avoid CPS ‘train wreck’

WTTW: What Will Tax Credit Scholarships Mean for Illinois?

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DNAinfoSouth Loop School Should Close, Be Converted To New High School, CPS Says

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Sun-TimesOpinion: Phil Kadner: Historic school reform could be another con job