With thousands of layoffs less than three months away, Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool on Tuesday presented snazzy new packaging on his plea for financial help from Springfield — but still no details on how to deliver it.
Claypool’s “20 percent for 20 percent” campaign that seeks the same state funding for CPS students as kids elsewhere receive includes no particulars on how to convince legislators, nor on how to solicit help in lobbying them from the Chicago Teachers Union, which recently returned a whopping 97 percent practice vote in support of a strike.
Echoing his and the mayor’s arguments of recent months that CPS children receive less state money than other districts, Claypool said that CPS children receive $3 on average from the state for every $4 Illinois sends to downstate and suburban districts — contrary to “conventional wisdom” that CPS gets more than everyone else.
“Since 2009, Chicago Public Schools has accounted for 20 percent of state enrollment, Chicago taxpayers contribute year after year 20 percent of state income tax revenues, which is the primary source of funding for public education,” he told a City Club of Chicago crowd that included top district officials and board members. “But our children in Chicago receive only 15 percent in state education funding.
“If we simply got our fair share – 20 percent of the money – we would receive an additional $458 million, eliminating our budget gap.”
CPS still lacks $480 million from its current operating budget after making a $634 million pension payment in June. And Claypool has been warning of massive layoffs — on top of severe cuts made last summer — to school budgets and staffs should Springfield continue to punt.
He wants help from the CTU, with whom CPS is negotiating a new contract to replace one that expired in June, but Tuesday offered nothing in return for that support on a bill the union has opposed.
“There should not be a need for an enticement because teachers obviously have the most at stake,” Claypool said after his speech. “Their jobs, their pensions and their kids – the classroom that they care deeply about. That alone should cause them to want to join us in Springfield to fight for fair funding, for equal funding.”
The CTU took a practice vote on a strike — which would be the second since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office — in which 97 percent of members polled said they’d walk out if the CTU asked them to. And they’ve been asking legislators to consider new sources of revenue.
“CPS is not saying anything new,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said after the speech. “They are still promoting a bill that does not work — it creates a pension holiday and gets rid of the block grant that funds CPS.”