School funding was discussed at Humboldt Park meeting...

On Monday, July, 31, 2017 I attended a meeting on school funding at Humboldt Park Library. The first visual to catch my eye was a list of money added or taken away from schools around Humbolt Park. I was not happy because my grandson’s school was on the list and I don’t like cuts to public schools anyway.

According to CTU organizer, Martin Ritter, the following cuts were listed in several newspapers: Brentano +$270,00, Cameron -$204,000, Casals -$32,000, Chase +$29,000, Chopin-$183000, Clemente High + $343,000, Diego -$236,00, Darwin,-$215,000, Funston-,$8,000, Goethe -$99,000, Kelvin Park High School, -$794,000, Lowell, +$64000, McAuliffe,+ $198,00, Moos-$31,000, Mozart, - $69,000, Stowe, -$353,000, Wells $-140,000, Yates, -$140,000.

I reasoned that the cuts were probably because Springfield may not pass the Education Funding Bill but Ritter stated, “that the bill would not be enough to cover the loses anyway, that the cuts were due to enrollment and that some of the schools receiving cuts had been in communities for at least one hundred years”.

We discussed programs that are already missing from our schools such as art, music, libraries and vocational programs. We discussed the need for nurses, behavioral specialists, teacher assistants, clerks, and a return to clean schools. Many things make providing a good education so difficult even without the cuts. Someone mentioned Betsy DeVos’s snatching pubic funds for private schools. I could tell that the collection of Grassroots Organizations, Pubic School staff and parents were angry.

What is the cause of lack of funding besides Springfield and the governor?

Ritter said it was” bad leadership from Rahm in mishandling of TIFs.” I was not aware that TIF funds were used at Navy Pier, I looked it up, according to Crain’s Chicago Business, July 21, 2017 issue, which published a lengthy investigation exposing how the money was re-allocated to Navy Pier. MPEA-Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, a municipal corporation created by the Illinois General Assembly whose Board is appointed by the Governor of Illinois, describe how” $55 million in tax-increment financing -an arcane program designed to spur development in blighted neighborhoods was redirected from a hotel project at McCormick Place to the redevelopment of Navy Pier.”

We need to use TIF funds for the stated purpose or as Ben Joravsky stated on WCPT 820 news, get rid of it. Ritter believes that we must make it work the way it is supposed to by investing in blighted communities and supporting a bill to force a $160 million surplus to the schools..

Another suggestion for raising money for schools mentioned by Ritter is a return of a “Corporate Head Tax” taxes paid for by businesses with over 50 employees. Emanuel phased out the ‘Head Tax’ in 2014. According to an article by Chris Lentino of the Illinois Policy Institute (a conservative group), “Chicago Aldermen propose to pass the proposed $33 per Employee Corporate ‘Head Tax’ for each employee on staff to drum up revenue for the Chicago Public Schools. Eighteen aldermen signed on to legislation that would introduce the “Head Tax” to Chicago employees with 50 or more employees. However, employees who reside in one of the 30 neighborhoods would not be subject to the tax. These neighborhoods were chosen based on being in the top 20 in violent crime or top 20 in hardship index” Alderman Carlos Ramirez - Rosa ,35th Ward has spearheaded the’ Head Tax’ reforms.

The conservative bias of the Illinois Policy Institute becomes clear in the article. Lentino stated in his article that the city “rather than enacting reforms to bring CPS’ financial house in order, aldermen seek to extract more money from an already overburdened tax base…. As Chicago officials continue to increase taxes on residents and businesses.” By "reforms", the Illinois Policy Institute seems to mean that CPS should provide less money to pensions, while adding borrowing thereby increasing the massive debts to the banks.

There was a plan by Grassroots Collaborative whose spokesperson stated that the cutting of funds to schools is a result of,” the displacement of students because of the 606 being built, then taxes were higher and students were moving out of the neighborhood which caused schools to lose students and a gain in other neighborhood schools.”

I’m a resident in Humboldt Park and while our value of our house has gone up because of the 606 our property taxes also went up $2,000 this year and rent for even studio apartments has also gone up. This week the Collaborative will do door knocking in Humbolt Park and visit Aldermen Moreno and Maldonado.