Legislators Announce Bill to Limit Charter School Expansion

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

State Representative Will Guzzardi and other lawmakers announced plans to push a new law that would significantly limit the growth of charter school operations in financially distressed school districts, citing the immediate, wrenching financial crisis at the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), which could face early closure June 1. At a press conference Monday, Rep. Guzzardi, Rep. Mary Flowers, Rep. Luis Arroyo, Sen. Omar Aquino, Ald. Milly Santiago (31) and Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36) urged the Illinois General Assembly to pass HB 3567 to establish a moratorium on new charter operations in financially distressed school districts. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) uses its School District Financial Profile to evaluate the fiscal health of districts around the state. HB 3567 would put a moratorium on charter expansion in districts labeled “financial early warning” or “financial watch,” the two lowest tiers. Roughly 90 districts around the state fall into those categories, including Chicago Public Schools. This bill would not affect currently operating charter schools, but would prevent new campuses from opening.

“With CPS in dire financial trouble, we must take swift action to prevent privately managed charter operators from siphoning needed funds away from the public, neighborhood schools that are the anchors of our communities,” said Rep. Guzzardi. “CPS and districts around the state must prioritize funding for existing schools before opening new ones.” Ald. Villegas cited the struggle in recent months among local leaders and community organizations to try to halt the expansion of a Noble charter school on the Northwest Side. “This charter expansion is ridiculous in light of the district’s deficit and the severe cuts to school budgets in our neighborhoods,” said Ald. Villegas. “In this difficult financial situation and without other revenue options clearly on the horizon, this legislation would impose common sense reform to protect students.”

It is shameful that the Governor is holding the Chicago Public Schools hostage in his attempt to destroy the state’s middle class,” said State Sen. Aquino. “It is time for the political gamesmanship between our city leadership and the Governor to end. Our schools need revenue and protections. This bill provides our district and other districts across the state with protections.”

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