Senate Republicans: Recent funding numbers contradict CTU claims

As 600 members of the Chicago Teacher’s Union took a taxpayer-funded day off at the Capitol to demand $1 billion more in state funding for Chicago Public Schools, Senate Republican Caucus leaders say recent funding numbers contradict many of the CTU’s claims.

Senate Republican Deputy Leader Sue Rezin (R-Morris), State Senator Don DeWitte (R-St. Charles) and State Senator Seth Lewis (R-Bartlett) say many special financial deals have been provided to Chicago Public Schools in recent years that other schools don’t receive. They also note that many more schools district throughout Illinois face far worse financial challenges.

“I am a strong supporter of investing in our public schools which is why I had an active role in the bipartisan Evidence-Based Funding formula that I voted for seven years ago. EBF took years of hard work and negotiations from countless advocates and stakeholders and ensured that no school district was a winner or loser. Every district was guaranteed the same level of funding that they received before EBF was implemented,” Rezin said. “The law was designed to provide a roadmap to get all schools in Illinois to adequacy.”

Under the Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) model, school districts are broken into a four-tier system with Tier One school districts being those that have the greatest need for new state funding to adequately educate their students. Since the funding formula was passed, and with additional state support, CPS has already moved up to Tier 2.

Senator DeWitte said that for many years, CPS has received a disproportionate share of the state’s education resources through special carve-outs and unique grants, such as hundreds of millions from the Chicago Block Grant that was written into the CPS base as part of the formula.

 “Very little surprises me any more in this Capitol building but knowing how the scales have been tipped in CPS’s favor with regard to funding over the years, it is simply outrageous for the Mayor and now for the Chicago Teacher’s Union to come down here and try to bully lawmakers into money they claim they are being shortchanged,” DeWitte said. “These funding extras were grandfathered in and built into CPS’s new revenue streams. Yet there are more than 300 Tier 1 school districts all over the state that the formula says have greater need than the Tier 2 CPS. The needs of the Tier 1 schools that are ahead of CPS in line are no less important. Their students, teachers, and families are no less valuable.”

Senator Lewis says in a tight budget year for the State of Illinois, the demands made by Chicago Mayor and the CTU members that they owed more than a billion dollars are tone-deaf to the fiscal realities Illinois faces in crafting the Fiscal Year 2025 budget.

“Everyone has a right to come to this building to ask for something, but when you continuously use bullying tactics to intimidate people, and then resort to name calling when they do not agree with you, I think you are going to find there is going to be some pushback. People in this building are getting tired of that, and there is going to be opposition. Those of us who represent the suburbs are not intimidated, nor are we swayed, by the bullying tactics,” Lewis said. “Chicago needs to start paying its own bills. In the suburbs, when there is a financial need within a school district, they go to referendum. Voters weigh in at the ballot box in an up or down vote, and school districts respond accordingly. It’s time Chicago started playing by the same rules everyone else is expected to play by.”

The Senate Republican Caucus leaders say they will continue to stand up for taxpayers as well as provide equal funding for schools throughout Illinois.

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