Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: April 9 – April 15, 2022

Illinois lawmakers pass budget with more money for schools, tax relief for families

By Samantha Smylie for Chalkbeat

“Illinois legislators approved a budget plan over the weekend that includes more funding for K-12 public schools, a modest increase for early childhood education, and tax relief for families. The spring legislative session was expected to end at midnight Friday, but lawmakers blew past the deadline to vote on a $46 billion budget proposal early Saturday morning. With the state starting to rebound from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, the 2023 fiscal year budget includes $350 million toward the evidence-based funding formula for K-12 public schools and $1.8 billion in tax relief for working families hit hardest by rising costs of food, utilities, and gasoline.”


Budget cuts hit pandemic-weary Chicago elementary schools

By Mila Koumpilova for Chalkbeat Chicago

“In 2022-23 school budgets across Chicago, pandemic-era enrollment losses are colliding with the urgent push to recover from the outbreak’s academic and mental health damage. In Little Village on the city’s Southwest Side, Zapata Elementary will lose more than $894,000, or about 13% of its budget, next fall — a cut that could claim eight teaching positions and a preschool classroom. Cardenas is looking at $605,000 less, or a 6% reduction, and the resulting loss of four classroom teachers and a support staff member. The cuts come on the heels of a steep enrollment dip: Little Village’s 14 elementary schools lost almost a fifth of their students during the pandemic, which accelerated a pre-COVID trend of shrinking Latino majority elementary schools throughout the city. Because fewer students are enrolled, the neighborhood’s campuses will actually get an average of $2,600 more per student next fall than they did the year the pandemic hit — despite getting less money overall. Little Village is also one of the neighborhoods where COVID took the heaviest health and economic toll — and the district is slashing budgets as campuses try to bounce back from that profound disruption. The cuts also come as the district acknowledged spending just 6% of its $1.8 billion in American Rescue Plan dollars, the latest and largest infusion in federal pandemic recovery cash.”


Chicago Public Schools asked to repay $87 million it got from ‘coding error’; state funds were due to other Illinois districts

By Tracy Swartz, Dan Petrella, and Karen ann Cullotta for The Chicago Tribune

“The state of Illinois will distribute $87.5 million to hundreds of school districts that were underpaid because of a “coding error” — while seeking repayment from Chicago Public Schools, which mistakenly got the funds. The appropriation is part of the $46.5 billion spending plan lawmakers passed Saturday. The Illinois State Board of Education said a contractor made a “coding error” in the spring of 2018 during the initial implementation of a new state school funding formula. As a result, 14 school systems are owed between $1 million and $5 million, while 565 are due up to $100,000 according to IBSE. In total, 762 school districts were underpaid over the past four years. Meanwhile, the state is trying to recoup the $87 million it mistakenly paid CPS, its largest school district. ISBE said 52 other school systems were overpaid by a total of $3,396 during the affected period, and it will try to recover funds from districts that received at least $10 more than they should have.”