Are TIF funds for schools being allocated fairly?

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It’s becoming repetitive. Four times in the last week has Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the man who closed nearly 50 schools, publicly favored others with capital expansions. Tax-increment financing has been his primary tool for paying for the work.

His latest example was his boldest announcement yet, $17 million for the elite Walter Payton College Prep to expand its capacity almost by half. The mayor’s announcement and the debate it triggered are reported here by the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman and Lauren FitzPatrick.

Critics accuse the mayor of using TIF money to “pick winners” among selective-enrollment schools and not providing funds for those that admit everyone in their neighborhood.

A 2012 study by Stephanie Farmer, assistant professor of sociology at Roosevelt University, brings perspective to the issue.

Her report, prepared for Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education, called CReATE, found that since 1983, TIF aid to schools has been sent disproportionally to those with some form of selective enrollment. The standard neighborhood schools account for 69 percent of schools in the city system, yet they get just 48 percent of TIF funds, Farmer said.

Overall, she counted $857.81 million in TIF support for 28 schools. Click here to access the full report.

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