CHICAGO (CBS)—A $1 billion capital investment boost announced Friday will give Chicago Public Schools the means to modernize schools and implement universal preschools, according to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Standing with CEO of CPS Janice Jackson at a press conference Friday, Emanuel announced what would be a historic investment in CPS, but provided few details about how the plan will be financed.
The budget proposal released today shows a new open-enrollment high school somewhere on the city’s Near West Side. The new school was announced as part of $247 million in proposed building renovations and new construction. CPS is also planning a new building for Hancock High School, a selective-enrollment school on the Southwest Side.
The budget proposal also mentions renovations and expansions for a host of other schools, including Hyde Park Academy High School, Senn High School and Prosser Career Academy.
CBS 2’s Mai Martinez pressed the Mayor—who is seeking reelection this year–on where the money would be coming from.
But Emanuel skimmed over the question at his press conference Friday—instead changing the subject to Governor Bruce Rauner before spending more than a minute discussing CPS’s upgraded credit rating.
“The new funding formula—equalize that funding,” Emanuel said.
The city, he said, is benefitting from the state having a budget in place. He says the state budget allows CPS to outline their own budget in a more expedited manner.
Big questions still loomed when Emanuel ended the press conference, however. Namely, will the city need to borrow to finance the improvements?
“Well, how about this, Illinois is finally returning to Chicago taxpayers the money they already pay and doing it fairly because for 50 years, we’ve been funding education, and it’s been going to the suburbs,” Emanuel said before walking away from reporters. “We’re finally getting our fair share back.”
CBS turned to Lawrence Msall of the Civic Federation for answers about whether the city could afford the $1 billion without borrowing money, and he had this to say.
“They’re not going to spend a billion dollars of cash flow,” Msall said. “They don’t have a billion dollars worth of cash flow—they have very little reserve.”
The short answer is that CPS will likely need to borrow most of or all of the money to finance the proposal, despite the city’s improved credit rating.
The CPS Teacher’s Union said in a statement that the plan would not be taken seriously unless it addresses complaints logged by the community during the past seven years.
“This is just another election year stunt,” the statement said.
Hearings on the capital budget will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. July 19, at Truman College, Malcolm X College and Kennedy King College. The school board is set to vote on the budget July 25.