CHICAGO — Gov. Bruce Rauner had yet to release his proposal for a new statewide school funding formula Tuesday morning, but that didn't stop Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool from calling it delusional.
Claypool called the governor's proposed 2017 education budget, which would cut $74.4 million from CPS, "like Alice in Wonderland." Rauner's 2016 budget — which still hasn't passed, nearly 10 months after the July 2015 deadline — included about $106 million in cuts to CPS.
"This makes our already grave fiscal crisis graver," Claypool said. "It means the threat to our schools in the coming school year is even more profound than yesterday. And that is why this budget must be defeated."
The Daily Herald published a sneak peak at Rauner's proposal Tuesday morning, reporting that it offers a $55 million boost to the state's general school payments.
Rauner aides say his plan would effectively end a process called "proration," which continually whittles down per-pupil funding to schools, thereby saving CPS money in the long term.
But Claypool countered by pointing out that it would increase funding to wealthier districts like Winnetka, Wilmette and Park Ridge, while making cuts from higher-poverty districts like East St. Louis and North Chicago.
It would exacerbate an already unequal state funding scheme, Claypool said, which leaves Chicago with "73 cents in funding for every dollar in the rest of the state ... and that gap continues to widen every year."
"This is fundamentally a system the discriminates against poor black and brown students in the city of Chicago," he added. "This is a reverse Robin Hood system where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."
As justification for the proposed cuts to CPS, Rauner's office pointed to the district's declining enrollment, particularly among students living in poverty.
But Claypool said that that was "a small portion of the decrease," calling Rauner's argument a "very misleading statement designed to mask that he is dramatically cutting funding for low-income schools."
The schools chief also praised a recent bill proposed by Illinois Senate President John Cullerton and Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) to overhaul the state's current school funding formula, meanwhile, calling it "a step in the right direction."
Rauner noted earlier this month that he would consider such a proposal, saying, "I don't think the current system works well, and I support changing it."
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