As the clock ticks down on the General Assembly, lawmakers are struggling to avoid the debacle of public schools not opening in the fall. But they’re having a tough time coming up with a school funding formula that pleases both parties.
The number of different school funding plans can be counted on one hand -- just barely. Friday afternoon, the senate approved a measure pushed by Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, that would freeze the current funding formula and allow the City of Chicago to raise property taxes -- measures meant to appease Republicans. Any new monies would be distributed through a formula Cullerton says decreases Chicago Public School’s share of state dollars.
“But I’m still willing to put it in here, with the increase in our own property taxes -- not yours, ours -- so that we don’t have a strike, we don’t have layoffs," Cullerton said. "We want to keep the schools open in Chicago.”
But Cullerton’s bill would also put the state on the hook for Chicago Public Schools' teacher pensions -- and Republicans consider that a poison pill. The state already carries the pension costs for all other school districts.