Chicago Public Schools

TEDxNorthwesternU

On this week’s show: Jay Rehak. He’s an author and Chicago Public Schools language arts teacher. He and his classes at Whitney Young High School are the co-writers of over a dozen student-sourced novels. 

 

A new member of a state task force fighting sexual abuse in schools says he has a strong personal interest in the issue. 

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

If you’ve seen Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign commercials, you might think the school funding issue was settled last summer. But as often happens with complex legislation, it was followed by a “trailer” bill cleaning up some technical language.

Illinois Policy Institute

Members of the Illinois House of Representatives twice expressed unanimous opposition Wednesday to expressions of racial animus.

In an official 105-0 vote, the House adopted a resolution -- sponsored by Rep. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, and Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills -- which vilifies white supremacists. The proclamation specifically “repudiates and condemns'' neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and others that “espouse hate.''

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner expressed his reservations about two recent state bills.  One would raise the state's minimum wage; the other would allow Chicago residents to elect their own school board.

Both houses of the General Assembly approved a plan to step up the minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next five years from the current level of $8.25.  Rauner said he was willing to support an increase to $11 per hour but attacked Democrats for seeking more without GOP support.

CPS

The Illinois Senate will consider a measure that would let Chicagoans elect their school board rather than have members appointed by the mayor.

House Bill 1774 would set the first school board elections in 2023. That means whoever’s elected mayor in 2019 still would be able to make appointments through that term.

 

cps.edu

Chicago Public Schools wants to borrow up to $500 million for the new fiscal year, in addition to nearly $400 million in short-term loans to finish out this year and make a pension payment.

  

The Board of Education meets Wednesday to consider the plans.

A spokeswoman for the nation's third-largest district says the half-billion dollars of bond debt would be used in the upcoming budget year starting July 1.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans for the short-term loans last week. He blames lawmakers for putting CPS at a financial disadvantage.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's chief education adviser says the governor won't support an overhaul of the Illinois school-funding formula if it benefits Chicago Public Schools "at the expense" of others.

The Illinois Senate approved legislation Wednesday aimed at eliminating the disparity in spending between affluent school districts and those serving poorer communities. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House.

Both Democratic proposals would establish a funding target for each school district that reflects the needs of its students.

cps.edu

Despite a judge's decision Friday to toss Chicago Public Schools' civil rights lawsuit against the state, Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared late Friday that classes will not end early as CPS officials had threatened.

"The children of the city of Chicago will be in school until the end of the school year," Emanuel said at news conference late Friday afternoon.

The mayor did not say where the city will get the money to keep schools open.

Chance the Rapper donated $1 million to Chicago Public Schools Tuesday.  

He characterized it as a "call to action", and comes after a meeting with Gov. Bruce Rauner.  The governor had congratulated Chance for his recent grammy wins, and invited him to meet.  However, Chance, who supports increased funding for the school district, says the meeting wasn't successful.  

cps.edu

Grammy-winning artist Chance the Rapper met with Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to press for immediate funding for cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools, but says he left "flustered" over "vague answers."

  

Friday's unusual one-on-one meeting comes as the Republican governor and Democratic lawmakers are locked in a two-year budget stalemate.

The meeting was set after the rapper - real name Chancelor Bennett - won three Grammys last month. Rauner tweeted congratulations, and Chance, who attended Chicago schools, asked for a sit-down.

"Courtroom" by Flickr User Karen Neoh / (CC X 2.0)

Chicago Public Schools officials are seeking a preliminary injunction barring the state of Illinois from disbursing education funds until it adequately funds the state's largest school district.

Faced with a huge deficit and an upcoming teacher pension payment, CEO Forrest Claypool said Monday the Chicago school year could end three weeks early on June 1 if the state doesn't come through with funds.

cps.edu

Chicago Public Schools officials say they'll restore $15 million of once-frozen discretionary funds to some of the district's poorest schools.

The move increases the district's budget gap to $129 million.  

Officials had reduced principal's discretionary funds to cut costs. The money is used for school supplies, among other things.

Chicago's schools are suing Illinois' governor and other state officials over how the state funds schools, claiming it violates the civil rights of the predominantly-minority student population in the nation's third-largest school district.

Tuesday's lawsuit was filed in Cook County on behalf of black and Hispanic families. It seeks to have a judge declare the formula unlawful.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he'll meet with legislative leaders to negotiate a budget deal, and he's willing to include money he vetoed for Chicago Public Schools if it's part of a ''comprehensive package.''

Rauner said Friday that meetings are scheduled Saturday and Sunday with the four legislative leaders and ''I'm not taking anything off the table.''

cps.edu

In a sign the stalemate in Springfield is as strong as ever, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that once  had been held up as proof he and Democratic leaders were capable of working together.

The action leaves politicians divided, and it could leave the financially-ailing Chicago Public Schools short some $215 million.

Republicans got on board with sending CPS extra money, but Rauner said he'd only sign it into law if legislators passed another, even bigger bill by the New Year to reduce the state's pension costs.

cps.edu

A Chicago high school that would have been named after the nation's first African-American president is a casualty of the deal that prevented a teachers strike.

The deal that the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools reached late Monday includes roughly $88 million from a $175 million surplus from tax-increment financing, or TIF, funds.

The deal required several aldermen to sacrifice projects in their wards that would have been paid for with those funds.

Moody's Investors Service downgraded the debt of Chicago Public Schools on the same day district teachers threatened to strike.

The group downgraded CPS's debt from B2 to B3, and called the district's financial condition "precarious" and "acute."  Monday from B2 to B3, Moody's called CPS' financial condition "precarious" and "acute." The new rating is one level above C, which Moody's describes as "speculative (and) of poor standing, and are subject to very high credit risk."

Amanda Vinicky

The massive unfunded Illinois pension obligation has made reducing the state's costs a priority for years.

An overhaul of retirement benefits for state employees, public school teachers and university workers has been the subject of talks between state leaders in recent months.

Gov. Bruce Rauner said as much Wednesday, but he sounded uncertain as to what will come of it.

The state Supreme Court has ruled that a previous law cutting pension benefits was unconstitutional.

cps.edu

Chicago Public Schools are laying off about 1,000 employees, including nearly 500 teachers. But officials expect most to be hired for other open positions.

Officials with the nation's third-largest school district said Friday that those affected will be eligible to apply for other jobs in the district, which has about 1,000 teaching vacancies.

The teacher layoffs include 302 at high schools and 192 at elementary schools.

The others include 352 high school support personnel and 140 personnel at elementary schools.

twitter.com/BruceRauner

  With the current budget standoff, Illinois has no immediate plans to fund schools.

 

Governor Bruce Rauner has ridiculed Democratic plans for giving too much to Chicago Public Schools.

 

cps.edu

The head of Chicago Public Schools says the district has "reached the point of no return" and faces severe cuts without "equal" funding from the state.

Schools CEO Forrest Claypool led hundreds of teachers, parents, and students in a rally in Springfield on Thursday seeking more state funds for Chicago's schools. The district faces a $1 billion deficit next school year.

Claypool said Wednesday that with only one week left in the state Legislature's session, the district must "make a statement the governor cannot ignore."

Steve Johnson / Flickr/Creative Commons

Water service to a Chicago public school has been cut after tests revealed an elevated lead level.

Officials said Friday that water coolers have been delivered to Tanner Elementary School in the South Side Grand Crossing neighborhood.

The lead was discovered as the district tested water at 32 Chicago schools.

Lead was found in the water of six schools at levels below Environmental Protection Agency standards. Testing will now be done at 250 additional schools, most built before 1986.

cps.edu

  The Chicago Teachers Union approved a plan Wednesday to close down city schools on April 1.

The union wants to bring attention to education funding and contract issues.  Earlier this month, the district said employees must take three unpaid furlough days during the current fiscal year to save $30 million.  

Chicago Public Schools officials say a walkout would be illegal, because it isn't in line with the state-mandated process for a teacher's strike.

cps.edu

Chicago Public Schools officials say they've filed lawsuits over the Illinois State Charter School Commission's decision to block plans closing three underperforming charter schools.

The lawsuits were filed on Wednesday in Cook County and claim the commission is overstepping charter school law.

Schools CEO Forrest Claypool says the commission has "ignored its own academic standards" to keep underperforming schools open.

He's also called on state legislators to cut the commission's power.

cps.edu

A federal judge has set a date for a defendant in a Chicago Public Schools kickbacks case to change his plea.

Thomas Vranas and a co-defendant are accused of arranging to pay the then-head of CPS $2.3 million in exchange for her steering $23 million in no-bid contracts to their company, SUPES Academy.

A notice posted Wednesday by Judge Edmond Chang says prosecutors and defense attorneys asked for a date for Vranas to change his plea. It's set for April 12.

cps.edu

Chicago Public School principals have been told to stop spending because the district is short of the cash needed to keep operating for the remainder of the school year.

Each of the district's geographic school networks was given a savings goal with the hope of saving $45 million.

School officials told the principals the district was stockpiling its remaining cash to make a $688 million pension payment on June 30.

The payment comes weeks before new property tax revenue is to be deposited in CPS bank accounts.

cps.edu

The head of Chicago's public schools is criticizing the Illinois State Charter School Commission for blocking a plan to close three underperforming charter schools at end of the school year.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool yesterday called the commission's decision “shameful” and says the district will challenge it.

The district moved to close Amandla Charter School, Shabazz International Charter School's Sizemore Academy and Bronzeville Lighthouse Charter School for failing to meet academic standards.

cps.edu

Chicago Public Schools has announced the layoff of 62 employees, 17 of them teachers, citing its efforts to stabilize its finances by eliminating $85 million from school budgets.

In announcing yesterday's move, the school district said those laid off include 43 full-time and 19 part-time employees.

Chicago schools CEO Forrest Claypool says the fact the cuts are needed is unfortunate for the district's students, principals and teachers.

cps.edu

Chicago Public Schools have slashed millions of dollars from school budgets, forcing principals to refigure their plans with the second semester just underway.

The principals received news of the $85 million cut on Tuesday as the school district faces a $1.1 billion budget deficit, no income from the state of Illinois and no contract with the Chicago Teachers Union.

In a written statement, schools CEO Forest Claypool the steps taken were necessary because the district's cash position "becomes tighter every day."

Pages