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On first day of school, CTU calls on city leaders to ‘fund the formula’

by ctu communications  |  09/05/2017

CHICAGO—Members of the Chicago Teachers Union kicked off the first day of school with parents, students and Brighton Park community residents at Kelly High School this morning. The message was simple: Fund the formula by putting the dollars our schools need into this year’s budget.

Kelly is one of hundreds of Chicago public schools that have seen their budgets cut for the school year that started today, with 23 fewer staff, including the loss of most of the school’s counseling staff and one of the last remaining school librarians. While Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a compromise bill last week that makes important improvements to the state-wide education funding formula, that bill committed only $350 million in new funds for the state’s public schools for FY 2017-18, about 7 percent of what is needed across the state. 

And even with increased funding for Chicago’s public schools—funds that the CTU has lobbied aggressively for each year—CPS is still short roughly $500 million for the upcoming school year.

“Mayor Emanuel’s devastating funding cuts have left thousands of students, mostly in Chicago’s African-American and Latino neighborhoods, drastically short of the resources and support that students at more privileged magnet and private schools in the city receive,” CTU Financial Secretary Maria Moreno said.

The CTU has demanded that the mayor and his wealthy donors and corporate allies start paying their fair share of public school funding, instead of the city’s policy of relentlessly nickel-and-diming ordinary residents with regressive tax increases that have hurt working and middle-class families. The CTU is advocating instead that Emanuel reinstate the corporate head tax he cancelled as a favor to local elites shortly after he took office; dip into the city’s substantial tax increment financian (TIF) surpluses; pursue a commercial lease tax on large properties and the corporations who own them; and a range of other options that will force those who can most afford it to at last begin paying their fair share for public education.

“Last week, the mayor stood shoulder to shoulder at a bill signing for a new education funding formula with his former hedge fund boss, billionaire Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, but neither politician addressed how to adequately fund the formula for Illinois’ schools,” Moreno said. “It’s time for Emanuel to step up and provide the half a billion dollars our schools need for the upcoming school year.”

CTU members charge that Emanuel has failed to put as much energy and enthusiasm into passing legislation for sustainable, progressive revenue sources to fund the new school funding formula as he did for a voucher deal embedded in the new school funding formula. That voucher deal provides yet another tax shelter for millionaires and diverts public funds from state revenue streams into private coffers, undermining the effort to bring Illinois closer to providing equitable funding for all school districts in the state.

Chicago Teachers Union