CITY HALL — Two prominent grassroots parent groups called on the mayor to allot excess development funding to Chicago Public Schools before Wednesday's City Council meeting.
"Our children and the future of our city are at stake," said Wendy Katten of Raise Your Hand. "Our children are suffering the harm of budget cuts right now."
"Students are suffering and parents cannot close the gap — nor should they have to," said Kate Bolduc of the Common Sense Coalition of Local School Councils. "We need teachers in classrooms, textbooks for students and essential programming, like art and music, restored at neighborhood schools."
Bolduc said that, according to a Common Sense survey of schools, 70 percent had lost essential classes such as music and art, 89 percent had lost money for textbooks and supplies and 63 percent have class sizes that exceed union contract guidelines set with the Board of Education.
Like others, the groups called on the mayor to release excess Tax Increment Finance district funds to CPS.
"We are extremely perplexed and very angry that the mayor has said he's only going to return 25 percent of unallocated TIF dollars back to our schools," Katten said. "We don't understand the priorities of this city."
Katten said they were filing a Freedom of Information Act request to determine the actual allocation of the city's reported $1.7 billion in TIF funds.
The Mayor's Office and CPS have both said TIF funds would not address CPS' long-term budget crunch, which they blamed on the need for public pension reform.