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"Politifact" featured Dyson Professor Andy Crosby in "Is CPS the most understaffed district in Illinois?"

06/22/2018 News Release Image

"Politifact" featured Dyson Professor Andy Crosby in "Is CPS the most understaffed district in Illinois?"

Double-take

LaRaviere sees that conundrum as evidence CPS is wasting money because of unsound financial policies that drain resources to pay for adequate staffing.

But experts also point to other, less politically fraught, explanations.

Andy Crosby, a professor of public administration at Pace University in New York said urban districts are more likely to serve students from low-income backgrounds who may require additional resources to educate. Districts in large urban areas, he said, typically pay teachers higher salaries to compensate for increased cost of living as well.

But he also pointed to U.S. Census data showing Chicago was far from the biggest spender among large urban school districts. In 2015, the data show, New York City spent roughly $22,000 per student while Chicago spent less than $14,000.

Illinois data, meanwhile, show that Chicago’s per-student spending may be above average, yet there are many districts in the state that spend far more.

Another factor to consider when weighing spending at CPS is the looming shadow of high pension costs. Prior to changes made by state lawmakers last year, CPS bore the entire expense of funding the employer share of pensions for its teachers and staff. All other districts in Illinois relied on state taxpayers to pick up their pension tab.

Rebecca Hendrick, a professor of public administration at the University of Illinois-Chicago, suggested the pension overhang could be putting pressure on the district to lower operating costs to free up funds for pension payments. Those payments ramped up significantly during Emanuel’s second term as a consequence of years of contribution deferrals that began under Daley.

Read the full article.