If federal and state statutes drive funding and staffing levels, how is it that CPS can choose to ignore or follow them at will? And why can’t other Illinois districts do the same under SB1? Bev Johns responds.

CPS_0426
CPS CEO Forrest Claypool.

The first thing to remember is that in all things education there is Chicago and then there is the rest of Illinois.

The same rules rarely apply.

Most of the state’s poor and students of color live in Chicago and Cook County. When bad things happen they usually happen here first and then travel down state.

For years, special education funding to CPS has been in the form of a block grant, with no guarantees of how it will be spent. In recent years the money has been co-mingled with general education funding. There were no guarantees that special education funds would result in direct and dedicated funding for Special Education teachers or at what ratio of teacher to student.

CPS has now told parents it will no longer co-mingle the general education and special education dollars in their block grants. If true, this is a win.

Meanwhile the legislature has sent to the governor a school funding formula, Senate Bill 1, which will send special education dollars to districts as block grants as they have always done to CPS, allowing for co-mingling of general education and special education dollars. The state will no longer require direct and dedicated funding for special education teachers.

Interesting that when I asked my state representative, Will Guzzardi, about this part of SB1, he told me, “As far as the number of teachers, staffing ratios for special ed are written into federal and state statute; it’s those ratios, not the funding line item, that as I understand it are the driver of how districts staff up.”

So, I am confused.

If federal and state statutes drive funding and staffing levels, how is it that CPS can choose to ignore  or follow them at will.

And why can’t other Illinois districts do the same under SB1?

From Bev Johns:

Fred,

“As far as the number of teachers, staffing ratios for special ed are written into federal and state statute; it’s those ratios, not the funding line item, that as I understand it are the driver of how districts staff up.”

There is NO Federal or Illinois statute on number of teachers or staffing ratios for special ed.

There is NO Federal regulation on number of teachers or staffing ratios for special ed.

There is NO Illinois regulation on number of teachers or staffing ratios for special ed.

There is an Illinois regulation that says each local school district is supposed to have its own special education teacher workload rule, but many do not, and those that do say workload will be individually determined or have extremely high limits or are very vague statements that limit nothing. (ISBE does NOT approve or even receive a copy of these local school limits.)

One Reply to “If federal and state statutes drive funding and staffing levels, how is it that CPS can choose to ignore or follow them at will? And why can’t other Illinois districts do the same under SB1? Bev Johns responds.”

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