CTU goes to Springfield to lobby lawmakers for more school funding, CPS CEO agrees $1B needed

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Wednesday, May 15, 2024 11:15PM
Chicago Teachers Union goes to Springfield to lobby lawmakers for more funding
Chicago Teachers Union members traveled to Springfield Wednesday to lobby lawmakers at the state capital for more school funding.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Teachers Union members traveled to Springfield Wednesday to lobby lawmakers at the state capital for more school funding before the legislative session ends next week.

"The reason why we are here is because our schools are drastically underfunded," said Pavlyn Jankov, CTU research director.

Over the past few years, Chicago Public Schools got a taste of being fully funded thanks to federal COVID funds.

"That brought funding into our schools, brought counselors, brought special education teachers, brought lower class sizes," Jankov said.

COVID funds dry up next school year. CTU and Mayor Brandon Johnson are asking lawmakers for $1 billion, the amount that would fully fund CPS under a need-based state funding formula passed in 2017.

"For the mayor and now his minions in the Chicago Teachers Union to come down here and bully lawmakers into more money claiming they are being shortchanged, is absolutely outrageous," said Republican State Senator Don DeWitte.

Johnson paid a visit to Springfield last week. While state Republicans call the request outrages, even Democrats say $1 billion is out of the question.

"It's hard to get $1 billion on top of revenue we are sending to CPS in one budget cycle," said Democratic State Rep. La Shawn Ford.

Under the need-based funding formula, Springfield has sent more money to CPS every year, even as enrollment dropped. Because of fiscal restraints, lawmakers are giving each Illinois school district until 2027 to become fully funded.

But CPS CEO Pedro Martinez agrees with CTU that the funding must be expedited.

"What we are seeing is our needs are outpacing the funding increases we are getting, we have more children than ever that have IEPs, 504s, more children coming in from all over the globe," he said.

CPS will also have a new CTU contract to pay for. Negotiations between the union and the district are underway. The union is asking for a 9% annual pay increase.

Martinez also spent his day in Springfield, and called his meetings with leadership "productive."