(CBS) — Republican state lawmakers are expected to announce a proposal Wednesday morning that would allow an independent authority to take over the Chicago Public Schools, CBS 2 has learned.
The entity could have the authority to force CPS into bankruptcy. Republican Senate Leader Christine Radogno and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin are behind the proposed legislation.
On Tuesday, Governor Rauner was asked by reporters whether bankruptcy is the only way out for CPS.
“I’m very concerned, I’m worried that the mayor is failing,” Rauner said. “The mayor gave in and caved in the strike four-and-a-half years ago. It hurt the taxpayers, it hurt the children as a result and right now the mayor’s only real message to the state government is hey, we failed financially our schoolchildren, send us half a billion dollars.”
The city has asked for funds from Springfield in order to address what CPS officials have called the state’s unequal funding formula that provides more money for students in suburban and downstate districts than Chicago students.
Last summer, the Chicago Board of Education passed a budget plan that includes a $1.1 billion shortfall, hoping state lawmakers would approve at least $480 million in pension relief for the Chicago Public Schools. Rauner has repeatedly said if Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants his help with the city’s financial mess, the mayor must support his Turnaround Agenda, which would restrict labor unions’ powers in Illinois.
A Parent advocacy group is reacting to the proposed state takeover. Wendy Katten, the director of Raise Your Hand, tells CBS 2 she does not trust an authority led by Governor Bruce Rauner.
“I’m horrified and parents in my group are horrified because this would wreak havoc on our children, the children of Chicago and this is a horrible idea.”
The group also says bankruptcy is not a solid plan to help the school district and it should be only a last resort.
The mayor’s office responded with a statement saying, “The mayor is 100 percent opposed to Gov Rauner’s “plan” to drive CPS bankrupt. If the governor was serious about helping Chicago students, he should start by proposing — and passing — a budget that fully funds education and treats CPS students like every other child in the state.”
CPS CEO Forrest Claypool released a statement saying, “The governor is defending a school funding system that is separate but unequal. Our children are facing systematic discrimination. CPS represents 20 percent of state enrollment but gets just 15 percent of state funding, even though 86 percent of our children live in poverty.
“The missing 5 percent represents nearly $500 million, the exact amount of our budget gap. Our children’s futures are just as important as those in the suburbs and downstate. But the state does not value them equally.
“Not only that, the governor’s comments are deeply irresponsible as CPS and the CTU are working feverishly to reach a deal that would cut costs while preventing midyear layoffs, and the district prepares for even deeper cuts to the bureaucracy.”