Illinois House members from Chicago requested an "emergency meeting" Thursday with Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool over the issue of school funding.
The meeting request comes as CPS prepares for deep school budget cuts in the upcoming academic year if the state fails to come through with funding for the district. CPS faces a $1 billion budget deficit in the new fiscal year, which starts in July.
"Our families need a concrete and viable plan to move our schools forward, and we are committed to working together to advocate for additional funding for CPS schools and to bring stability to our neighborhood schools and the students and families they serve," the representatives said in their letter.
The following Illinois Democratic representatives from Chicago requested the meeting: Cynthia Soto (4th District), Ken Dunkin (5th District), Sonya Harper (6th District), Art Turner (9th District), Pamela Reaves-Harris (10th District), Ann Williams (11th District), Sara Feigenholtz (12th District), Kelly Cassidy (14th District), Rob Martwick (19th District), Christian Mitchell (26th District), Marcus Evans (33rd District), Will Guzzardi (39th District) and Jaime Andrade (40th District).
"We are thrilled to hear that Chicago Public Schools is mobilizing support to join the already strong coalition of administrators, teachers and CPS families we have been working with to secure additional resources for our neighborhood schools," Williams said in a statement. "We requested this meeting in hopes that CPS leadership will join us in our ongoing efforts in Springfield to advance real, sustainable solutions to the fiscal crisis at CPS."
In his push for equitable school funding, Claypool has noted that the district gets 15 percent of the state's education spending, although Chicago students account for 20 percent of enrollment statewide. As such, Claypool has recommended the state spend 20 percent of its education funding on CPS.
Some Illinois lawmakers, however, question that proposed funding approach.
"Twenty for 20 is a great slogan, but it's not a solution," Guzzardi said. "Funding school districts by the number of students alone is exactly what we've been working against here. We're working toward a formula that supports districts with high concentrations of poverty, disability, and English-language learners -- a formula that would support CPS as well as other high-need communities. We hope the CEO will join us."