August 23, 2016
The Civic Federation cannot support the Chicago Public Schools proposed $5.46 billion budget because it effectively remains out-of-balance by relying on uncertain funding and one-time measures in order to close a $1.1 billion operating deficit. The Civic Federation urges CPS to develop a public and transparent contingency plan for members of the Board of Education to approve in the event relied-upon revenues fail to materialize.
Despite the major concerns, the Civic Federation is encouraged by several aspects of the proposed budget. Expenditure reductions made in recent years and reinstatement of the dedicated pension levy are among a number of steps in the right direction.
The Federation recommends that the district implement a formal long-term financial strategy, present a realistic contingency plan for FY2017 that does not rely on borrowing or other unsustainable actions, create a policy eliminating the use of scoop-and-toss practices, end the pension pick-up for all employees, rebuild budgetary reserves, make budget hearings more accessible to the public and present consistent findings in its budget book and online budget. The Federation also recommends that the State of Illinois merge the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund with the downstate and suburban Teachers’ Retirement System and that CPS continue to advocate for changes to the Illinois School Aid Formula.
The Chicago Public Schools fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30.