The Chicago Board of Education is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to approve as much as $840 million in new borrowing for school construction.
The school district has not yet detailed how that money would be spent.
In a statement to The Bond Buyer, a Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman said “this up-to amount would be for construction under the supplemental capital plan and funded by revenue from the new capital improvement tax.”
“Because these bonds have a dedicated revenue source, they will not impact CPS’ operating budget,” the statement added. “We anticipate releasing the supplemental capital plan after we’ve gone to market.”
Chicago parents and community groups gathered before Wednesday’s board meeting to “demand a transparent capital budget process” from the district, which has “yet to disclose what the money will be spent on.”
“Although there is a great need for investment in existing public schools, this money must not be allocated to new school construction at a time when enrollment has dropped by 25,000,” reads a statement from the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council.
The Chicago Board of Education “has a history of misspending taxpayer funds and in light of the recent WBEZ report documenting how CBOE has prioritized investments in schools that primarily serve affluent and white communities over neighborhood public schools in communities of color,” the statement adds. “The lack of transparency in decision making by the Board of Education is one of the reasons why 90% of parents in Chicago voted for an Elected School Board in Chicago.”
In addition to the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, members from the Raise Your Hand coalition, Parents 4 Teachers, Grassroots Illinois Action and Northside Action for Justice spoke out Wednesday morning.