Jax state rep co-sponsoring bill focusing on Chicago schools

By Jim McCabe on October 10 at 1:18pm

Jacksonville’s state representative wants all school districts- whether they’re Chicago or right here in Jacksonville- to play by the same rules.

C.D. Davidsmeyer this week signed on as a co-sponsor of three bills meant to increase accountability of the Chicago Public School system, which he says has received more than $230 million in overpayments from state block grants.

Davidsmeyer says the three bills hold CPS accountable for the grant funds it receives.

House Bill 3690 would repeal CPS’s preset block grant allocation, meaning Chicago would have to submit grant applications to the State Board of Education the same way every other school district in Illinois does.

HB3691 requires CPS to submit special education services claims for reimbursement just like every other district in the state. HB 3962, meanwhile, withholds all federal and state funding from CPS if it does not comply with existing state law requiring it to report its expenditures of funds.

“The bills that we’re talking about create equality throughout the state. Right now, school districts in the 100th District right here at home have to apply for these grants; they spend the money and then they have to apply for the reimbursement. In Chicago, they get a cut of the money right off the top before even applying for anything, before spending a dollar,” Davidsmeyer says.

“And they’re accounting for it, obviously as we’ve seen, is a little bit lackluster. They really only accounted for maybe half of the funds they’ve received.”

CPS was not required to report its block grant spending for 18 years. Two years ago, the legislature passed a law requiring CPS to report its grant expenditures, but CPS did not comply with the reporting requirement until recently.

When the report was finally received, Davidsmeyer says, it revealed that while CPS received $483.7 million in block grants, it provided only $249 million in student benefits- an overpayment of $234.7 million.

“There’s no reason that my school district shouldn’t have the same access to that funding that the Chicago schools have,” he says. “We are a very diverse state, but there’s no reason for education funding that things should be that different.”

State Representative Norine Hammond of Macomb and Sandra Pihos (PEE-hose) of Ellyn also are co-sponsoring the legislation.

The House reconvenes for its fall session on October 22nd.