Why you need to buy candy, go to auctions, and save Box Tops

June 7, 2009 at 10:12 pm Leave a comment

More interesting information from my CPS pamphlet called “On the Same Page,” this time about school funding.

We all know from word on the street that Illinois and CPS are not exactly setting the standard for education funding.

I’m not completely sure what this means, but it doesn’t sound good: “Illinois’ state contribution to public education dropped to a new low of total funding this year, putting our state 49th out of 50 in state funding.”   (Nevada is last, Hawaii is first.)
My understanding is that school districts combine the state money (where we are 49th) with city/town tax income to fund the schools.  The brochure explains that cities with high property wealth, like Evanston, can generate lots of extra funding per pupil, while here in Chicago (and other urban areas) we have a lot of lower-income citizens which makes it tough.  The city takes all our tax dollars, puts it into one central school pool, then divides it out equally across all students (well, lower income students get an extra $700 or so in funding each year – called the discretionary funds at a school.)
But even compared to other big cities, Chicago lags behinds.  They provide the following amounts spent per pupil per year on education:
Evanston   $20,040
Washington D.C.   $18,332
NYC   $17,209
Atlanta   $14,666
Los Angeles   $11,409
Chicago   $10,431
Houston   $9,036

I imagine that NYC and DC are paying a lot more in salaries than we do?  I know LA pays fairly well and has good benefits (based on info from a friend whose husband teacher high school there.)
But I can’t help but think that if Chicago is spending $10K per kid, couldn’t we just send everybody to private school?!  Seriously, there are good private schools that cost less than that per year!
Basically IL needs to kick in more.  It’s shameful that we’re 49 out of 50 with only Vegas behind us.  And somehow that $10K per year needs to be better utilized.  And if all else fails, at least Evanston is close by.  Damn, $10K more per kid a year up there!  It makes me want to cry.  Or move.

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