Amid continued uncertainty about state school funding, Chicago Public Schools principals will learn on Thursday how much money they’ll have to spend during the upcoming school year, district officials told them Friday.
And then they’ll have not quite a week — smack in the middle of summer vacation — to allocate the money, set school schedules and then seek the necessary approval from their governing Local School Councils.
Meanwhile, principals’ hands still are tied regarding new hires for the school year starting right after Labor Day.
In school-level budgets, CPS has assumed it’ll receive about $300 million through a proposed new statewide school funding formula that passed both houses of the Democratic-led General Assembly. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has pledged to veto that bipartisan bill, which also gives more money to hundreds of Illinois districts serving poor students, calling it a “CPS bailout.”
Despite his veto threat, Rauner said Friday “We’re going to make sure schools get open and we’re gonna make sure that it’s done on a basis that’s fair for taxpayers all across the state, and it doesn’t benefit only one community at the expense of residents of other communities.”
The billions in education money recently appropriated in the passage of the state’s first budget in more than two years can’t be distributed until a separate measure spells out the funding formula. CPS held off on informing principals on how much they’d have to spend while awaiting news from the state. Officials can’t wait any longer; the Chicago Board of Education must approve a full operating budget by Sept. 1.
“This year, these budgets will be provided later than anyone can remember — and much later than we had hoped,” according to a letter signed by CEO Forrest Claypool and Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson and sent to principals Friday. “Looking ahead, we will continue to urge the governor to sign Senate Bill 1, which will give school districts around the state the certainty they are demanding.”
If Senate Bill 1 or some other funding formula bill doesn’t become law, school leaders will again have to make up for some $300 million.