In 2004, I characterized Mayor Daley’s Educational policy initiative, entitled Renaissance 2010, as a diabolical initiative designed to weaken the foundation of Public Education and facilitate the privatization of schools. In 2007, I warned Ren 2010 would result in the closure of schools. In 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 Chicago Public Schools. It now costs CPS $1.8 million annually to maintain boarded-up school buildings.

Under the direction of the current mayor, Chicago Public Schools have engaged in the cleansing of Socially and Attitudinally challenged at risk students. School closings, expulsions and other measures have resulted in the elimination of underperforming students. Thus, upon closer examination, the perceived improvements in graduation rates is a fiction without merit.

Education Situation:  CPS currently has 681 schools including 472 elementary schools, 106 high schools, 96 charter schools, and 7 contract schools. Unlike most school systems, CPS is headed by a chief executive officer rather than a superintendent.

Elected School Board: Members of the Board of Education should be elected by the public. We should establish eight single-member districts with a president to be elected at large. The legislation must include safeguards to avoid the hijacking of the election by powerful, well-funded organizations, PACS, unions and other special interest groups. The enabling legislation must be carefully drafted to include strict campaign financing and spending limits, and thereby ensure that ordinary and average individuals have an equal opportunity to win election.

Longer School Day: I would not support a measure that would make a longer school day mandatory. Instead, I would support an initiative which would provide the option for students to benefit from a longer school day based upon their individual desire, capacity and family circumstances.

Charter Schools: The number of Charter schools should be frozen at the current level.

Budget Deficit: CPS has an actual budget deficit of nearly $545 million.

Operational Efficiency: To help close the CPS budget gap, we will decrease the operational costs through the installation of devices which efficiently regulate and control building temperature and lighting; through better administration of contract awards; and by significantly increasing the number of CPS contractors bidding to provide goods, services and materials.

2018 CPS Budget:  The Chicago Board of Education approved a $5.75 billion fiscal 2018 operating budget.

Schools receive the base rate of $4,290 per student and weights based on grade level and diverse learner LRE categories – Schools also receive foundation positions (principal, counselor, clerk) and adjustments for teacher experience and multiple buildings

36,511 Total CPS Positions

CPS also secured $454M in new revenues in FY17 from state and local resources • $250M new pension levy which will grow based on EAV • $102M new Equity Grant from the State within GSA • $74M GSA hold harmless which would continue with SB1 • $28M increase in the Early Childhood Grant • These incremental revenues are structural in nature which permanently reduces the budget deficit • With the passage of SB1, CPS anticipates further structural reductions to the deficit

CPS Enrollment: 371,382. Students attend a particular school based on their area of residence except for charter schools and selective enrollment schools.

Graduation Rate: The school system reported a graduation rate of 73.5 percent for the 2016-2017 school year. That graduation rate is misleading because many at-risk youth, who are still eligible for enrollment in CPS, have previously dropped out or been expelled from CPS. Those potential students have been purged from the records and are no longer reflected in the CPS accounting process.

Education Funding: There are 102  Illinois counties. Of them, 101 fund education with a proper mix of Property Taxes and State Income Taxes. Unlike the other counties, Cook County relies primarily upon Property taxes to fund education. In fact, over 50% of Cook County property taxes go to fund education.

Funding Solution:

After several iterations and much disagreement, the State of Illinois now has a new statewide school funding formula. The Illinois General Assembly approved the new formula as Senate Bill 1947, House Floor Amendment 5 on August 29, with the Illinois House passing the bill Monday, August 28 and the Senate concurring the next day. The Governor signed the bill into law as Public Act 100-0465 on August 31, 2017.

This historic new funding formula will help alleviate the ailing finances of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) by providing approximately $300 million in additional funding for teacher pensions and general funding, but will not pull CPS out of its liquidity and debt crisis and will likely mean a property tax hike for Chicago taxpayers. As part of the compromise reached between Democratic and Republican State leaders, CPS was granted authority to increase its property tax levy for teacher pensions by nearly 50% from the current maximum tax rate of 0.383% to 0.567%. CPS has not yet revealed how much it will increase its pension levy, but estimates have ranged from $120 to $150 million.

Walls Educational Goal: To provide a superior public or charter school education for each and every individual child.

Walls Objective: To encourage a reversal of the ill effects of Rahm Emanuel’s failed educational policies, and eradicate the obsolete “one size fits all” educational concept.

Walls Educational Policy Initiative: Mandate “Educational Intensive Care.” We must implement policies, practices, and procedures designed to ensure Chicago students have at least an 80% chance of completing their education, Pre-K through 12th grade.

Educational Methodology: Bring everyone together, including the Board of Education, Public, and Charter School Administrators, Principals, Teachers, Chicago Teacher’s Union, Local Elected School Council, Educational Community Activists, Parents, Students, Business and Community Partners.

Chicago Alternative Learning Opportunities: Chicago Alternative Learning Opportunities Programs (ALOP) is open to students between the ages of 17 and 21 who have left the school system and wish to re-enroll. We would use select CPS properties, from the inventory of school buildings previously closed by Rahm Emanuel, to provide a combination of alternative educational opportunities, Skill training and development, Mental Health Services and general city services.

Chicago Teachers Pension Fund: CPS teachers do not contribute to Social Security and therefore, rely on their pensions for financial security in retirement. Established by the Illinois state legislature in 1895, the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund manages members' assets and administers benefits. The $9.7 billion pension fund serves approximately 63,000 active and retired educators, and provides pension and health insurance benefits to more than 27,000 beneficiaries totaling nearly $1.4 billion annually.

Pension Contribution: The district's pension contribution for the new fiscal year that began July 1 is $784 million, which is 11 percent of the CPS operating budget. This CPS pension commitment is equivalent to $1,600 per student. In fiscal year 2014, the state of Illinois allocated $11.9 million for the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund.

Pension Funding: The stated goal is to be 90 percent funded by 2059. Absent pension relief from Springfield, a portion of the property tax levy may have to be redirected to the pension fund. Another option may be to return Tax Increment Financing surpluses to CPS.

Teachers' Retirement System: In FY2018, the state made a $4.1 billion contribution to TRS. This amounts to a pension contribution for downstate and suburban school districts of $2,512 per student, while CPS received $623 per student. Those amounts are expected to grow to $2,683 and $639, respectively, in FY2019.

Issues and Concerns:

Teacher Retention; Title I funds often go unused and are returned to the Federal government due to low enrollment in tutoring and other prescribed programs; The state pays the employer cost for pensions for all non-Chicago teachers and should consider doing the same for Chicago.

School Closures: Rahm Emanuel closed 50 Chicago Public Schools. Emanuel claimed they were both underperforming and underutilized. They now exist as dangerous, boarded-up, eyesores. Ninety percent of the 30,000 students impacted by the closures were African American. According to the most recent census, Chicago's black population dropped 17 percent as those former residents relocated to the suburbs and elsewhere.

Resolution: As City Clerk i will encourage the adoption of  policies that decentralize city government, I suggest we reopen many of the 50 schools Rahm recklessly closed. Those buildings could be “education first facilities” with a “mixed-use” component. Those sound structures could be refurbished and restored to their primary use as neighborhood schools. However, to make this economically feasible, and reduce the burden on taxpayers, we could modify each building to also accommodate, a Police Sub Station; A Regional or Local CPS office; A WIC office; A Neighborhood DHS office, and a student therapy facility. Given the proper design, these several essential community service providers can safely and efficiently co-exist in the same structure.

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