Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool on Tuesday blasted a proposal by Gov. Bruce Rauner that Claypool said would result in an additional $74 million in cuts at Chicago schools.
“The funding formula that he defends makes no sense. If you’re a wealthy district you gain. If you’re a poor district you lose,” Claypool said at a news conference Tuesday. “The governor has “made it clear he wants to take over CPS,” he continued. “I’m not surprised he would put forth a budget where CPS is the biggest loser.”
Rauner released an education funding plan Tuesday, showing how school districts across the state will end up after he would add $55 million for general state aid to K-12 districts. He has emphasized since his February budget address that he wants to eliminate “proration” of school funding — that’s the state’s practice since 2009 of reducing how much it pays school districts — and fund schools at 100 percent.
But the governor has made little legislative headway on his signature Turnaround Agenda in the Democratic-led General Assembly, and there’s no indication this plan would fare any better.
Rauner also opposes any funding formula that pits school districts against each other by taking money away from one to give to another.
But many districts, including CPS, still lose money. Education secretary Beth Purvis chalked that up to fewer students enrolled in Chicago combined with higher property values.
“Every district does better by ending proration than if we used the state formula and we prorated,” she said. “As difficult as this is, this formula has been in place since 2003.”
CPS could have lost $189 million under the funding formula Democrats prefer — the same method Democrats have used for the last seven years to fund state schools, she said. That formula is based on enrollment, number of poor children and the district’s property values.
Purvis said Rauner vowed to support the new funding formula “in the hope that we can end all speculation about schools not being able to open because of concerns over there not being a pre-K-12 budget.”
For CPS, the governor would lower state funding from $967.3 million to $892.9 million.
The cuts would further cripple the broke district that Rauner has targeted as an apt candidate for bankruptcy.
“This is Alice in Wonderland logic where up is down and down is up,” Claypool said. “Does losing $75 million make you a winner when you’re trying to educate kids living in poverty? How does Gov. Rauner define a winner under his plan?”
Claypool likened Rauner’s plan to “more akin to what we would expect to see in the education system in Mississippi in the 1960s” because it shortchanges districts like Chicago’s that are full of children who are poor, and black or brown.
He prefers but has not fully backed a new school funding formula recently introduced by State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill. His plan would cost about $600 million: an estimated $400 million in the first year to ensure school districts don’t initially lose money, as well as $200 million for the state to pay normal costs of Chicago teacher pensions. But no funding sources have been discussed.