CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday announced that $270 million from recent bond sales will go to 18 school districts, including $54 million for the Chicago Public Schools, for projects approved as part of the state’s multi-year, $31 billion capital program.
The money will help fund construction of new schools, classroom additions, renovations, and upgrades to existing facilities. Some of the districts will use the funds to help pay for repairs from flood and other weather-related damage.
“This capital funding will help school districts in Chicago and across the state update their facilities and make critical repairs. We must invest in schools that will allow Illinois’ students to thrive and create a better future for our state,” Quinn said.
The Chicago district, which has an ongoing $5 billion capital program, received the largest grant. Waukegan Community Unit School District 60 will receive more than $28 million for additions to 12 elementary schools and DeKalb Community Unit School District 428 will receive more than $20 million to build a new high school.
Illinois has provided little capital support for schools and other infrastructure projects in recent years. Its last major capital initiative, the $12 billion Illinois FIRST program, was approved in 1999. Lawmakers approved the $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now program last year.
The state issued $7.8 billion of debt over the first half of the year to raise new money for the capital program, to restructure and refund outstanding debt, and for pension payments. It has relied primarily on taxable Build America Bonds to support capital projects approved in fiscal 2010.
The funds Quinn distributed will help the districts on the capital side, but many continue to struggle on the operational side due to the state’s lateness in paying operating grants as it grapples with a budget and liquidity crisis. Illinois ended September owing $5.5 billion to schools, transit agencies, human services providers, and other vendors.
The Democratic Quinn faces state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, in the November election for governor.