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Elected school board for Chicago? Legislative update from the CTU also notes legislation to provide better funding for CPS and other districts serving poor children...

Chicago has come closer than ever to finally getting an elected school board, now that both houses of the Illinois Legislature in Springfield have voted in support of the idea. Note, however, that there are still details to be worked out.

On June 2, 2017, the Chicago Teachers Union issued the following press release:

Legislative victories restore democracy and accountability

for Chicago Public Schools

CTU LEGISLATIVE UPDATE, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Nathan Goldbaum

June 2, 2017 312-329-6252, nathangoldbaum@ctulocal1.com

www.ctunet.com

State legislature passes measures to create elected Chicago school board, charter accountability, privilege tax to close loophole that gave billionaires lower tax rate than many working class residents.

SPRINGFIELD-In an eleventh-hour victory for public accountability and democracy, the Illinois Senate this week passed a veto-proof bill to grant Chicagoans an elected school board-currently the only school district in the state whose residents are denied this right. State Representative Robert Martwick and State Senator Kwame Raoul have been linchpins in the legislative effort to win passage of HB1774, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel continues to oppose despite two ballot initiatives that produced a groundswell of public support for an elected school board. The bill could go to Governor Bruce Rauner's desk for signature as early as July 1, 2017.

"It's time for the mayor to face the fact that Chicago's public schools need more than new streams of revenue-residents also need a new governing structure for schools rooted in democracy, not authoritarian rule from City Hall," said Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey. "This hard-won legislation celebrates the power of grassroots organizing and strikes a powerful blow in righting the wrongs of an elitist, undemocratic corporate agenda that disenfranchises residents and undermines neighborhood public schools."

HB1774 was the last bill passed by the Senate on May 31, 2017 before the body adjourned into continuous session. The bill now goes back to the House-which also passed a veto-proof version of the bill earlier this year-for reconciliation. CTU rank-and-file members have worked for years with grassroots groups to win the right for Chicago voters to elect school board members.

The Senate also passed HB768, sponsored by State Representative Chris Welch, which derails the power of the unelected and unaccountable Illinois State Charter School Commission to override decisions of local school boards across the state in charter school matters. The legislation also effectively derails the ability of corporate charter operators to expand outside the means of their finances.

"This is an important victory that restricts the ability of profit-taking charter operators to exploit public dollars for private gain, and restores charter oversight to local school boards and community residents," said CTU Legislative and Political Director Stacy Davis Gates. "The legislation provides a potent lever to push charter management companies to use their resources to enrich existing learning communities."

In a victory for both tax fairness and public finances, the Senate passed SB1719, a bill sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss that closes a tax loophole that has allowed hedge fund billionaires like Governor Rauner and Ken Griffin to pay a lower tax rate than millions of working class Illinois residents. The bill, identical to HB3393, could raise as much as $1.7 billion per year in new annual revenue, and the House has extended its deadline to June 30, 2017 to consider the Senate bill, with proponents expecting the House to take action on the bill by the end of the month.

"This bill and the tremendous victory of legislation that raises Illinois' minimum wage will help remedy financial inequality and put real resources back into our neighborhoods," Davis Gates said. The minimum wage legislation has also been sent to Governor Rauner for his signature.

The CTU and its allies are also pushing Senate President John Cullerton to take action on HB1253, which the House passed, to restore full collective bargaining rights for Chicago educators on issues that range from class size to runaway privatization-issues teachers charge have undermined the employment of people of color in Chicago's public schools. The CTU is also urging Cullerton to move on HB3720, a bill to bring true transparency to the murky world of tax increment financing and direct TIF funds to severely underfunded special education and trauma services in public schools, particularly in communities challenged by street violence.

Both chambers have also passed SB1 with razor-thin majorities. The bill changes the school funding formula to an evidence based-model. Various analyses of the bills point to improved equity in distribution of education funds across the state, with lower-income districts to receive additional dollars first.

"This is an important step in improving education funding for our most impoverished school districts, but with that said, the real issue with Illinois' school funding formula is the amount of money we put into it," Vice President Sharkey said. "There is no way to address Illinois' school funding challenges without putting a truly significant amount of new money into the formula-and we urge the governor to produce a budget to equitably and adequately fund K-12 education throughout the state."

###

The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at www.ctunet.com.

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Elected School Board OK'd By Senate, Putting Rahm's Control Of CPS In Doubt, By Heather Cherone | June 1, 2017 2:09pm

CHICAGO — Chicagoans would be represented by an elected — not appointed — School Board under a measure that won approval late Wednesday by the Illinois Senate.

The Northwest Side sponsor of the bill predicted the dramatic change in how the city's schools are run will become a reality, saying "we are this close."

Amid a flurry of action on the last day of the General Assembly's regular session, the Senate voted 53-2 to approve the plan to end Mayor Rahm Emanuel's control of Chicago Public Schools.

The bill approved by the Senate — which would go into effect in 2023 — would create 15 board seats and launch an independent commission to draw district maps.

Heather Cherone · DNAinfo Reporter

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But that differs significantly from the version of the bill approved by the House May 25, which creates a 20-member board led by a president who would be elected to four-year terms. State lawmakers would determine how the city is divided into electoral districts.

Currently, the board is made up of seven members, including President Frank Clark, who are appointed by the mayor.

The changes made by the Senate mean the House — which approved the initial version of the bill 105-9 — will have to consider the measure again. Another vote could happen this month, when lawmakers return to Springfield to attempt to hammer out an elusive budget agreement.

State Rep. Robert Martwick (D-Jefferson Park), said in a video posted on his Facebook page that another vote was likely at the end of June.

"We are this close," Martwick said, holding his thumb and pointer finger roughly an inch apart. "I wish I could tell you this was all done, but we are getting closer and closer and that's good stuff."

A similar measure passed the Illinois House in March 2016 on a 110-4 vote, but never came to a vote in the Illinois Senate.

In 2015, Chicago overwhelmingly voted in a nonbinding referendum for an elected board. The idea was pushed by leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union, which called the absence of an elected school board the "most pressing civil rights issue" in Chicago.

Emanuel's office, as well as CPS leaders, lobbied against the statehouse bill.

Earlier this week, CPS head Forrest Claypool said an elected school board "would not change the fundamental problem, which is funding."

Also Wednesday, the Senate approved a bill that remakes the way the state funds schools. Supporters said it makes the formula more fair for districts with a large number of low-income students.

Emanuel praised the bill, saying it "will bring much-needed stability to Illinois school districts, and I hope the governor does what is in the best interests of children across the state and signs this bill into law."

Gov. Bruce Rauner said in September that he opposed efforts to overturn the 1995 law giving Chicago's mayor control of the school district.

However, both chambers of the legislature passed the measure by a wide-enough margin that any veto by Rauner could be overridden.

During his 2015 re-election campaign for mayor, Emanuel opposed the push for an elected school board, saying since local school councils are picked by voters, Chicagoans' voices are heard.



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