Chicago Public Schools Would Lose $463M Under Rauner's Education Funding Plan: ISBE

Chicago Public Schools would receive more than $463 million less under Gov. Bruce Rauner’s education funding plan than under the model passed by the General Assembly, according to an analysis by the Illinois State Board of Education.

ISBE released the district-by-district breakdown Saturday – 12 days after Rauner issued an amendatory veto altering the legislature’s plan, Senate Bill 1, and just one day before the Illinois Senate was scheduled to return to Springfield to address the governor’s changes.

SB 1 is a measure to move Illinois to an “evidence-based model” of education funding, which would take into account each district’s individual needs, as well as its local revenue sources, when appropriating state aid – prioritizing districts that are furthest from being fully-funded.

Without an evidence-based model in place, no state funding can be disbursed to K-12 schools across Illinois at all, due to a provision in the budget passed in July that makes aid contingent on an overhaul of the education funding formula, which currently ranks among the least equitable in the country. [[432983263, C]]

Critics of SB 1, including Rauner, have called it a “bailout” for cash-strapped CPS because the bill as passed by the legislature takes into account the district’s $505 million in unfunded pension liability, plus $221 million in its normal pension payments, as well as the $203 million Chicago Block Grant, when determining how much it should receive in state funding.

The governor’s amendatory veto on Aug. 1 removed those considerations, among several other changes to the way aid to each of Illinois’ 852 districts would be calculated.

Under Rauner’s formula, ISBE found that CPS would receive $1.31 billion dollars this year, an increase of $28.6 million from the year before. That figure is $463 million lower than what CPS would receive under the version of SB 1 passed by the legislature.

However, Rauner maintained that CPS’ net difference between the two plans is only $241 million when taking into account the state pick-up of the district’s $221 million pension payment, though funding to do so has not been appropriated.

Illinois' largest school district (serving nearly 20 percent of the state's children) is currently the only district entirely responsible for paying the employer contribution to its Chicago teacher pension fund, while the state pays both the normal cost and unfunded liabilities associated with teacher pensions for every other district. [[419186634, C]]

Rauner touted his plan Saturday following the release of ISBE’s analysis, highlighting the ten school districts – many in Chicago’s suburbs like Elgin, Plainfield, Aurora and more – that would receive the largest increases in state funding should his changes be upheld.

However, CPS once again slammed the governor's veto and its potential impacts on the district. 

"No one should be fooled by these numbers, and it's no wonder Governor Rauner hid them for so long - there will be huge damage to districts across Illinois in the next several years," a CPS spokeswoman said in a statement.

"As we have seen from superintendents, teachers and parents from across the state, nobody other than the Governor supports punishing low-income students like this. No person of good conscience, not legislators or their constituents support treating children this way," she added. 

The Democrat-controlled legislature must vote to either override or uphold the Republican governor’s amendatory veto by a three-fifths majority, or the legislation dies without a contingency plan in place.

The Illinois Senate reconvened Sunday to address the issue, voting 38 to 19 in favor of overriding Rauner's changes. The House is scheduled to be in session Wednesday, and has 15 days to act on the veto, as parents and schools across the state grapple with the uncertainty of yet another Springfield showdown.

As a result of the impasse, the state missed its Aug. 10 deadline to make payments to K-12 schools for the first time in history on Thursday, according to Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza.

You can see ISBE’s projections on how each proposal would impact your district here.

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