Judge set to hear arguments on CPS lawsuit over state education funding

A day before a hearing on Chicago Public Schools' lawsuit against the state of Illinois over education funding, some aldermen on Tuesday complained that they haven't received any updates on the district's latest budget crunch."Where is Mr. (CPS CEO...

Judge set to hear arguments on CPS lawsuit over state education funding

A day before a hearing on Chicago Public Schools' lawsuit against the state of Illinois over education funding, some aldermen on Tuesday complained that they haven't received any updates on the district's latest budget crunch."Where is Mr. (CPS CEO...

19 April 2017 Wednesday 05:22
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Judge set to hear arguments on CPS lawsuit over state education funding

A day before a hearing on Chicago Public Schools' lawsuit against the state of Illinois over education funding, some aldermen on Tuesday complained that they haven't received any updates on the district's latest budget crunch.

"Where is Mr. (CPS CEO Forrest) Claypool, where is the (school) board, and when are we going to get an answer about the future of our children?" Ald. Scott Waguespack, 32nd, said at a City Council Finance Committee meeting.

"What are we supposed to tell our kids and our parents? Wait another day? Wait another week? Wait until June 1 and let's see if you're lucky enough to have a parent who stays at home? I mean, this is insane."

Claypool has warned that the school year could end June 1 instead of June 20, and that most summer school sessions could be eliminated, without a court ruling in the district's favor. The state has filed a motion to dismiss the district's lawsuit, which Cook County Chancery Judge Franklin Ulyses Valderrama is expected to also consider at Wednesday's hearing.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said cutting the school year short is "not the right option, not the right choice," casting doubt on whether the city would follow through on Claypool's threats. But aldermen on Tuesday criticized the absence of a public plan to keep schools open and close a budget gap that lingers despite midyear budget cuts and teacher furloughs.

The Chicago Teachers Union and some community groups have lodged similar complaints. The union has said it could carry out yet-to-be-specified labor actions to protest an early end to the school year.

CPS continues to press for quick ruling on state education funding lawsuit Juan Perez Jr.

Chicago Public Schools in a court filing this week rejected the State of Illinois' claim that the district can borrow money to avoid an early end to the school year.

But in legal documents filed Monday, the district provided no direct answers on its finances. Instead, CPS said that it may provide...

Chicago Public Schools in a court filing this week rejected the State of Illinois' claim that the district can borrow money to avoid an early end to the school year.

But in legal documents filed Monday, the district provided no direct answers on its finances. Instead, CPS said that it may provide...

(Juan Perez Jr.)

"CPS and this council have to be on the same page, and we should not be having adversarial dialogue between the Board of Education and us. We all want the same thing," Ald. Harry Osterman, 48th, said. "And if Springfield isn't going to solve this, we have to work together. But that requires a dialogue and all of us coming together to work for the entire city."

A proposal from Ald. George Cardenas, 12th, to send more money from city tax increment financing districts to CPS wasn't ready for the council's Finance Committee on Tuesday. The measure also faces opposition from some aldermen and from Emanuel's office.

"Mayor Emanuel's annual TIF surplus policy already provided $88 million to Chicago Public Schools for their 2016-17 school year," city spokeswoman Molly Poppe said Tuesday. "However, TIF surplus is not a long-term financial solution and does not come close to addressing CPS' financial concerns."

State asks judge to dismiss CPS lawsuit alleging 'separate and unequal' education funding Juan Perez Jr.

Attorneys for the state of Illinois asked a judge Friday to dismiss an education funding lawsuit brought by Chicago Public Schools as part of the district's efforts to plug a gaping budget hole.

The state argued that CPS' complaints about pension funding and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto...

Attorneys for the state of Illinois asked a judge Friday to dismiss an education funding lawsuit brought by Chicago Public Schools as part of the district's efforts to plug a gaping budget hole.

The state argued that CPS' complaints about pension funding and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto...

(Juan Perez Jr.)

CPS officials have said the district would be about $130 million short of meeting this year's budget after a series of school budget cuts and furloughs intended to cover for Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of legislation that would've delivered $215 million the district expected. The governor wanted the measure tied to broader pension reform.

The district has also struggled to pull together $300 million worth of internal savings that were also needed to balance this year's budget.

CPS says it has emptied its cash reserves and ended last school year with a negative operating fund balance of $127 million. The district must still pay about $720 million to its teacher pensions by the end of June, according to the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund.

Those pension costs are at the heart of the district's lawsuit against the state and a group of officials including Rauner. CPS argues the state discriminates against its largely impoverished and minority students, and violates Illinois civil rights law, by contributing more money to teacher pensions outside CPS than it does to the district.

A series of skipped pension payments and investment downturns have increased the district's pension obligations. State attorneys argue CPS has no legal basis to sue under state civil rights law.

CPS has asked Valderrama to issue a preliminary injunction that bars the state from distributing education dollars in what the district alleges to be a racially discriminatory matter. It's not clear how such a move, if approved, would quickly solve the district's immediate financial pressures.

jjperez@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @PerezJr

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