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McCarthy proposes ‘partially elected’ CPS board to counter ‘bullying mayor’

Former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy talked to Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman the day after he announced his mayoral candidacy. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Mayoral challenger Garry McCarthy is proposing a “partially elected, partially appointed” school board to dilute the power of a bureaucracy manipulated by a “bullying mayor.”

McCarthy also wants to call a halt to school closings, end “per-pupil funding formulas” and distribute education dollars “more equitably … based on student needs.”

Currently, CPS allocates a fixed amount of money for every student enrolled based on grade-level. Additional funding is added to that base amount for students with special needs and English learners.

“For too long, kids in the poorest areas of the city have been given the short straw and stood at the back of the line for school funds. The mayor has given them nothing but scraps and school closings,” said a policy statement on education posted Tuesday on McCarthy’s website.

“Social services and activity programs have been eliminated due to the mayor’s irresponsible budgeting. … We must end the closure of our schools and begin providing two-tier wraparound social services to assist families and students. Schools should be the `hub’ of every community.”

McCarthy’s policy also takes aim at Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s signature push for a longer school day and school year.

“A longer school day does not mean a better school day,” the McCarthy statement says, echoing the long-standing position of the Chicago Teachers Union.

For years, bills calling for an elected school board have stalled in Springfield amid opposition from Emanuel and his predecessor and political mentor, former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Both mayors did not want to lose control over the schools. Nor were they interested in injecting elective politics into CPS for fear it would slow momentum for their pet education programs.

Daley and Emanuel both argued that CPS already has elected officials in the form of local school councils. That’s even though LSC’s can determine only how money is spent in individual schools. They do not set spending priorities and policy for the entire system.

“We need a partially-elected, partially-appointed school board. This would give voice to families, rather than a bureaucracy making decisions by a bullying mayor,” McCarthy’s education policy states.

The fired Chicago police superintendent could not be reached to explain how many districts he would create to bring about a partially-elected school board, how long those elected members would serve, how much they would be paid and whether appointed or elected members would hold the majority on the seven-member board.

Neither could Emanuel’s campaign spokesman Peter Giangreco.

McCarthy’s website, http://www.garryformayor.com, also includes an expanded policy statement on crime, his political wheelhouse.

It reiterates his longstanding claim that “crime has entered every corner” of Chicago to the point where “no place is safe.”

But it includes no new ideas, beyond an interesting claim from the man who spent four-and-a-half years as Rahm Emanuel’s first call in the morning and the mayor’s last call every night:

“Turning the tide against violent crime in Chicago begins with eliminating political manipulation and micro-management of the police department by City Hall,” McCarthy’s policy statement proclaims.

On the all-important issue of city finances, McCarthy’s policy statement proclaims that “shady accounting tricks and constant tax hikes will not help fund our municipal and teacher pensions.”

But it does not spell out McCarthy’s ideas for meeting those ballooning obligations. It pledges only to “keep that promise” to fully-fund city employee pensions.

The only specific idea he has mentioned so far is his proposal to put a full-blown casino on the secure side of O’Hare Airport.

A casino windfall would not be a solution to the city’s $36 billion pension crisis, since all revenue generated at O’Hare must remain in that enterprise fund and must be spent there.

Emanuel considers city finances his strength after identifying dedicated funding sources for all four city employee pension funds.

But, McCarthy’s policy statement argues otherwise.

“The economy of crime, coupled with the mayor’s lack of fiscal responsibility, has put Chicago on a dangerous path towards financial ruin,” the McCarthy policy states, arguing that shootings and murders cost Chicago $9.6 billion — $1 billion more than the entire city budget.

“Our neighborhoods deserve to be our priority again. The mayor has forgotten that. Tax dollars should flow directly into our communities—not to the mayor’s cronies. The mayor’s own emails have made it abundantly clear that he is running a true `pay-to-play’ operation out of City Hall. That must stop.”

Contributing: Lauren Fitzpatrick