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Another attempt to redistribute state school funding sources

Let’s take a look at today’s Rockford Register Star’s My View column written by the IEA president, Cinda Klickna discussing the cuts being made in Chicago’s school budget and the fact that our state schools are underfunded and inequitable using the unfair local property tax.

The complaint is that Chicago Public schools are laying off teachers and support staff, and the usual, it’s hurting the children. It’s hurting the union members much more.

The student teacher ratio in Chicago Public Schools was 20 students per teacher in the 472 elementary schools and 24.6 students in the 106 high schools (FY 2008-09).

There are 41,500 employees with operating costs of $5.11 Billion dollars in 2012 and operating expenses per student of $13,078 with local taxes paying $2.273B, state contributing $1.619B and the feds almost $1B – but that’s not enough according to the IEA president.

Excerpt:

We’re seeing layoffs in big and small school districts throughout the state.  Districts that have for decades had to “do more with less” have now reached  their breaking points.

After cutting field trips, after-school activities, elective programs and the  arts, we’re now seeing staffing cuts aimed directly at the children. These reductions will ensure bigger class sizes and less time for teachers to spend  with students who need additional attention.

The Chicago school district is running out of money. Chicago Public Schools want to close 49 schools and terminate 550 teachers and another 300 school staff employees out of almost 42,000 employees!

That would be the equivalent of about 20 students per school, a nominal increase in students per classroom of less than one child to help the Chicago public school system remain viable.

Chicago Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel is backing the city school board’s vote to help reduce an estimated $1 billion budget shortfall by closing the under-attended elementary schools and programs.

So, the answer is then how do the public employees get more revenue. Take it from districts with higher property taxes of course, by throwing all the money into a pile and divvying it up based on per pupil with some districts having to pay much more per pupil then what Chicago would now have to pay per pupil.

These districts already get little or no state aid because that aid already goes to poorer districts and IEA now wants the extra money paid by higher property taxed districts – leveling the playing field by taking other people’s local property tax revenue and redistributing it.

Excerpt:

We must create a fair tax system that will allow the state to provide adequate school funding without further harming the middle class.

Another example of pitting one income level against another – class envy, when the primary goal is to obtain more taxes from the residents of the state for salaries and benefits.

Then there is an outright misstatement in the article concerning Illinois’ last place standing in the funding of public education nationally. However, the IEA president only includes the local portion of education funding in this example.

Excerpt:

Our schools are underfunded because our state over-relies on local property  taxes to fund education. We have the distinction of being last in the nation  when it comes to state support for education.

Statistically, the most fair way to look at this type of data is on a per capita  basis and according to the Public  Education Finances by the US Census Bureau for 2008, issued in June  2010, Illinois was 47th in state funding, but 11th in local funding for an overall ranking of 18th in the nation in total spending for elementary –  secondary per pupil expenditure at $10,246, certainly not last in the nation!

Another half-truth in the article is,

Excerpt:

The Illinois Education Funding Advisory Board estimates it would cost about  $8,700 to provide every student with an “adequate education”. In the just-passed  state budget, the per-student average will be $6,120. That’s definitively less  than adequate and, therefore, unacceptable.

The children are being cheated.

As stated in the previous post, the IEA president is now only including the state’s portion in her figures. Property taxes and the federal government also fund the public schools. The Chicago schools, as has been pointed out earlier receive over $13,000 per student, more than acceptable.

Costs of education funding is not immune to reductions just as in the private sector for those who pay the salaries and high pension benefits of the IEA and other public pensions driving the state to bankruptcy.

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