State asks CPS to repay $87M it mistakenly received over 3 years

“We have had several conversations with CPS and will continue to work with the district to resolve this matter,” a state spokeswoman said.

SHARE State asks CPS to repay $87M it mistakenly received over 3 years
A sign is displayed on the front of the headquarters for Chicago Public Schools. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Chicago Public Schools will have to repay the money.

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State officials are asking Chicago Public Schools to repay $87.5 million the district mistakenly received in 2018 during the rollout of a new state school funding formula.

A contractor working with the Illinois State Board of Education during former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration made a coding error that overstated the enrollment of students at state-authorized charter schools in districts with more than one such school, officials said this week. CPS is the only district with more than one state-authorized charter school, so it was the only system to get money it shouldn’t have.

The incorrect allotment to CPS compounded over the past three years, leading CPS to receive $87.5 million from the 2018-19 school year through this year that should have gone to other districts. ISBE said the money represents 0.3% of the total state funding — more than $28 billion — that has been distributed in that time.

“We have had several conversations with CPS and will continue to work with the district to resolve this matter,” said ISBE spokeswoman Jackie Matthews.

A total of 762 of the state’s 922 school systems are owed at least $10, with 14 owed between $1 and $5 million, 15 between $500,000 and $1 million and another 168 owed in the six-figures.

All districts owed more than $10 received a letter from ISBE in the past week notifying them how much they’re owed, and the General Assembly approved an immediate adjustment to state funding to make those districts whole. In the meantime, the state and CPS are working on a repayment plan.

“The error made by an ISBE contractor in 2018 during the initial development of the enrollment verification system for evidence-based funding has caused an overpayment to CPS in the amount of $87.5 million,” said CPS spokeswoman Mary Fergus. “We are in discussions with ISBE and the General Assembly about the impacts on CPS and the state budget.”

CPS didn’t say whether the district would have to make any cuts to current budgets to repay the funds.

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