Fate of CPS still unsettled after state passes budget

CHICAGO -- Lawmakers may be patting themselves on the back now that Illinois has a budget for the first time in three years – but the fate of Illinois schools is still unsettled.

The new budget bills do include a little more money for schools but it’s not nearly enough cash for Chicago Public Schools to balance its books.

“Can we just get a solution that solves the problem?” Karen Lewis, CTU president, said.

The measures passed Thursday in Springfield include about $350 million more for school spending but they don’t include a new formula for how to dole that money out to districts.

Chicago Public Schools are spending $70,000 a day just to pay interest on loans it already took out.

Some superintendents say they won’t even be able to make payroll past the summer without a new infusion of cash that could be allocated by a new school funding model.

Senate Bill 1 spells out a so-called evidence based spending model for schools. It has been passed by both Houses. But the Senate hasn’t sent it to the governor yet because they are afraid he won’t sign it.

Rauner has vowed to veto the plan saying it’s basically a CPS bailout.

Republicans say Chicago has created its own mess and at no time was the discussion about school funding reform designed to be a solution for the pension crisis.

“We need someone who sits at the table and says look we’re trying to fix the formula so we can distribute money to all of our schools – many of which are in worst financial straits than Chicago,” State Sen. Jason Barickman said.

Lawmakers said the path forward is unclear. School is supposed to start in two months and on Thursday Moody’s threatened to further downgrade CPS’ already poor credit rating.

Because of CPS’ troubles, Moody’s just announced it will also review the city’s bond rating. On Friday, the mayor vowed CPS will start on time – but he didn’t say how they’d pay for it.