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Emanuel's new bare-bones school budget fails to restore damaging cuts

“Mayor is again prioritizing paying bond holders who are laughing all the way to the banks they own – while continuing to harm our students by refusing to seek new revenue from those most able to pay,” say teachers.

CHICAGO, April 17, 2018 - The new school budget proposal deployed today by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's handpicked school board and executives ignores Illinois’ 2017 equity-based school funding formula, which lays out what CPS should be spending to meet the needs of the district’s overwhelmingly low-income students.

Instead, Emanuel’s favored ‘student-based’ budgeting formula – SBB – continues to rely on flat rate per capita funding that profoundly shortchanges the district’s poorest students. The new budget’s so-called ‘hold harmless’ provision increases average student spending by a scant $48 dollars per pupil – and fails to address deep cuts to special education, chronically filthy schools and facilities issues, or programming needs for the district’s most impoverished students.

“Emanuel’s so-called increase represents barely 2% of CPS’ budget – far short of what we need to solve neighborhood schools’ funding crisis,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “We’ve documented that CPS needs to provide least $400 million just to restore Emanuel’s past cuts. This budget increase represents a fraction of that need.”

Emanuel has proposed increasing next year’s school budget by roughly $60 million, an amount the CTU calls trivial.

“A pittance of less than $50 per student fails to fund even one additional teacher assistant in an elementary school of 600 kids with class sizes of 28,” said Sharkey, who notes that the State’s formula calls for class sizes of half that number. “To be blunt, Emanuel is again prioritizing paying bond holders who are laughing all the way to the banks they own – while the mayor continues to refuse to seek new revenue from those most able to pay.”

With the Illinois State Board of Education poised to release a report on grave problems in CPS’ special education policies, the new budget fails to commit to fully restoring the mayor’s deep special education cuts. Instead, the proposed budget targets new funds to academic programs that lock out the vast majority of CPS students.

“Barely 10% of CPS’ slots offer students access to international baccalaureate programs, Early College STEM programs, STEM magnet programs, or ‘classical’ elementary programs,” said Sharkey. “Modest increases in those programs will appeal to some who can leverage their kids into those classes, while the majority of neighborhood schools remain burdened by a chronic lack of resources that creates separate and unequal, apartheid-like conditions for students.”

The CTU fought in Springfield to pass the state’s new equity-based school funding formula and to increase funding for public education – a struggle the union won for districts across the state with virtually no help from the mayor.

“Emanuel's continued defiance of the state's equity-based funding formula denies our students the resources they need,” said Sharkey. “We have fewer educators today than before Emanuel forced his longer school day on schools. We struggle with skeleton staffs that undermine the rich instructional environment that our students deserve. We have barely one school nurse for every six schools, while most schools lack librarians. Neighborhood schools that educate the majority of our students confront a critical shortage of social workers and school counselors. Emanuel’s agreed to hire barely a fifth of the bare minimum of school janitors we need to confront a crisis in school cleanliness and facilities maintenance. Our students deserve better – and we plan to fight for those resources tooth and nail in upcoming contract negotiations.”

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The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in schools funded by City of Chicago School District 299, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information, please visit the CTU website at www.ctunet.com.

Chicago Teachers Union