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Aldermen Call For New CPS Funding; Claim $750 Million In Cuts Since 2013

By Ted Cox | July 20, 2016 4:07pm
"We must fund schools," says Ald. George Cardenas.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

Note: Parents 4 Teachers originally said the ward-by-ward cuts amounted to $4 billion, but data submitted actually added up to $750 million. Parents 4 Teachers blamed an error in the spreadsheet, and it has been rightfully corrected.

CITY HALL — Aldermen claiming more than $750 million in cuts to Chicago Public Schools in their wards since 2013 on Wednesday called for new forms of education funding.

"If we cannot invest in our children's future, we are nothing as a society," said Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th), who proclaimed herself a proud member of the Chicago Teachers Union from her days as a counselor at Jane Addams Elementary.

"We have a moral obligation to make sure our schools are properly resourced and adequately funded," said J. Brian Malone, executive director of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, at a City Hall news conference. "They're functioning at bare bones.

 Aldermen Susan Sadlowski Garza and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa discuss their proposals during Wednesday's City Council meeting.
Aldermen Susan Sadlowski Garza and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa discuss their proposals during Wednesday's City Council meeting.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

"We all remember when 50 schools were closed," he added. "We were told that was to provide adequate funding for the schools that remain."

Aldermen and the grassroots group Parents 4 Teachers released a study based on CPS data showing $750 million in cuts since 2013. The study found that six wards lost more than $25 million in school budgets — the 3rd, 8th, 12th, 25th, 27th and 33rd, with the 25th and 12th approaching $30 million — while only one ward, the 42nd, saw an increase, of $1.2 million.

"We must fund schools," said Ald. George Cardenas (12th).

Saying that most Chicago taxpayers feel, "I pay more, I get less," Cardenas added, "I didn't come here to blame anybody. I came here to put forth solutions."

Cardenas proposed declaring more extensive surpluses in Tax Increment Finance districts, to the potential gain of $89 million.

Other aldermen suggested padding the tax on leasing cars and office equipment, to the benefit of $35 million, and Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) proposed reinstating the corporate head tax on employees, to a gain of $100 million.

"Our children deserve it," Ramirez-Rosa said. "The future of our city demands it."

Yet Ramirez-Rosa's proposal on the head tax was immediately shuttled to the Rules Committee, which has been called "where good legislation goes to die," when Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) contested it.

"We can't play politics with the future of our kids," Ramirez-Rosa responded.

Reilly's 42nd Ward was the only ward to see an increase in school funding over the last few years, the study said.

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