In 2002, I characterized then Mayor Daley’s Educational policy initiative, entitled Renaissance 2010, as a diabolical initiative designed to weaken the foundation of Public Education and facilitate the privatization of schools. In 2007, I warned Ren 2010 would result in the closure of schools. In 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 Chicago Public Schools. It now costs CPS $1.8 million annually to maintain boarded-up school buildings.
Education Situation: CPS currently has 681 schools including 472 elementary schools, 106 high schools, 96 charter schools, and 7 contract schools. Unlike most school systems, CPS is headed by a chief executive officer rather than a superintendent.
Budget Deficit: CPS has an actual budget deficit of nearly $1 billion.
2015 CPS Budget: The Chicago Board of Education approved a $5.76 billion fiscal 2015 operating budget that extends the district’s revenue recognition period by 60 days – an accounting maneuver to bulk up available reserves and eliminate a nearly $1 billion deficit. CPS said in a statement”This is a one-time fix that allows the district to prevent further cuts to school budgets in the absence of increased state funding or comprehensive pension reform from (the Illinois Legislature),”
CPS Enrollment: Chicago Public Schools currently enrolls 400,000 students. In 2003, CPS enrollment exceeded 438,000. Students attend a particular school based on their area of residence except for charter schools and selective enrollment schools.
Graduation Rate: The school system reported a graduation rate of 65.4 percent for the 2012-2013 school year. That graduation rate is misleading because many at risk youth, who are still eligible for enrollment in CPS, have previously dropped out or been expelled from CPS. Those potential students have been purged from the records and are no longer reflected in the CPS accounting process.
Education Funding: There are 102 Illinois counties. Of them, 101 fund education with a proper mix of Property taxes and State Income Taxes. Unlike the other counties, Cook County relies primarily upon Property taxes to fund education. In fact, over 50% of Cook County property taxes goes to fund education.
Funding Solution: As Mayor of Chicago, central to my downstate legislative agenda will be a change in the Funding formula for schools in Chicago and Cook County.
Walls For Mayor Educational Goal: To provide a superior public or charter school education for each and every individual child.
Walls For Mayor Objective: To reverse the ill effects of Rahm Emanuel’s failed educational policies, and eradicate the obsolete “one size fits all” educational concept.
Walls For Mayor Policy Initiative: Mandate “Educational Intensive Care.” We must implement policies, practices and procedures designed to ensure Chicago students have at least an 80% chance of completing their education, Pre-K through 12th grade.
Walls For Mayor Methodology: Bring everyone together, including the Board of Education, Public and Charter School Administrators, Principals, Teachers, Chicago Teacher’s Union, Local Elected School Council, Educational Community Activists, Parents, Students, Business and Community Partners.
Chicago Alternative Learning Opportunities: Chicago Alternative Learning Opportunities Programs (ALOP) are open to students between the ages of 17 and 21 who have left the school system and wish to re-enroll. We would use select CPS properties, from the inventory of school buildings previously closed by Rahm Emanuel, to provide a combination of alternative educational opportunities, Skill training and development, Mental Health Services and general city services.
Chicago Teachers Pension Fund: CPS teachers do not contribute to Social Security and therefore, rely on their pensions for financial security in retirement. Established by the Illinois state legislature in 1895, the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund manages members’ assets and administers benefits. The $9.7 billion pension fund serves approximately 63,000 active and retired educators, and provides pension and health insurance benefits to more than 27,000 beneficiaries.
Pension Contribution: The district’s pension contribution for the new fiscal year that began July 1 is $634 million, which is 11 percent of the CPS operating budget. This CPS pension commitment is equivalent to $1,600 per student. In fiscal year 2014, the state of Illinois allocated $11.9 million for Chicago Teachers Pension Fund.
Pension Funding: The stated goal is to be 90 percent funded by 2059. Absent pension relief from Springfield, a portion of the property tax levy may have to be redirected to the pension fund. Another option may be to return Tax Increment Financing surpluses to CPS.
Teachers’ Retirement System: In fiscal year 2014, the state of Illinois allocated $3.5 billion to fund the Teachers’ Retirement System
Issues and Concerns: Teacher Retention; Title I funds often go unused and are returned to the Federal government due to low enrollment in tutoring and other prescribed programs; The state pays the employer cost for pensions for all non-Chicago teachers and should consider doing the same for Chicago.