Democrats pass massive bailout for Chicago Public Schools

On the final day of the scheduled spring session, House Democrats rushed a vote on a new school funding formula, Senate Bill 1, which would provide Chicago Public Schools (CPS) with a $500 million bailout while offering empty promises to the rest of the state’s public schools. 

The Democrats’ bailout bill would provide CPS with a more than $500 million windfall that will only continue to grow in future years. With the State already owing Illinois schools more than $1 billion this year and no way identified to pay for the new formula, Republicans stood in opposition to SB 1.

The new evidence-based funding model provides a blueprint to overhaul our broken state funding formula. The evidence-based funding model is significant to Illinois for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was specifically designed to drive much-needed funding to school districts that are the farthest away from adequacy. The model, as it was initially envisioned, was meant to focus more dollars on districts that are the least adequately funded.

Unfortunately, the House amendment to SB 1 further corrupts the evidence-based model and skews its results in favor of driving money to one school district. 

SB 1 would cost approximately $700 million in new state dollars to implement in FY18. Not only is that amount unachievable given the fiscal crisis facing Illinois, but CPS would receive nearly $500 million or 70 percent of the new funding. The other 851 Illinois school districts would receive just $200 million or 30 percent of the new funds, despite have 77 percent of total students. 

Supporting a bill that we simply can’t afford, a bill that bails out Chicago while shortchanging our schools, would be insincere to educators and unfair to the taxpayers of this state.

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