Chicago Public Schools chief Arne Duncan called on state lawmakers to provide additional operating funds to the district this year to help address a $180 million deficit in its $5 billion proposed budget for fiscal 2009.
The budget is up about $200 million from the spending plan that covers the current fiscal year that ends June 30. CPS officials initially faced a $340 million shortfall, but officials trimmed that figure by the planned use of $50 million from a $400 million reserve account and $90 million in spending cuts. School officials believe it is affordable to dip into the reserves because the growing account now is 7% of its budget. The district also expects to collect an additional $20 million next year in increased property tax collections.
The district’s debt is sold by the Chicago Board of Education.
CPS annually seeks additional operating funds and last year received about $130 million. The system also has been seeking new capital funds amid a four-year drought in new bonding authority to aid school, transportation, transit, and other projects.
Illinois lawmakers said they support a plan that relies on more than $10 billion of borrowing but have to settle on how to finance it. Gov. Rod Blagojevich will unveil his budget for fiscal 2009 today and it is unclear how much additional school aid he will propose.