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Added Aug 14 2011

If you own a home in Chicago, you are undoubtedly aware of the fact that CPS is proposing a property tax increase to cover a $712 million budget deficit. I would like to hear from residents in the 38th Ward as to whether or not they support this increase which will result in an average increase of $84 in your annual property tax bill. Is it fair for homeowners alone to pay for our public schools or would it be more equitable if these revenues came from a more universal source? Please let me know how you feel and let me know if you are a homeowner or not. Please send your comments and ideas to or just post a response here on Everyblock.

Please note that I will try to respond to everyone, but if I don't, be assured that I will read each and every comment. Thank you for your input!

  • roy 18 year resident

    I believe that the funding structure for schools needs to be revamped: it should not be based solely on local property tax, but be much more equitable for all school districts in IL. However, it is the system we currently have to work with and I do support the tax increase, especially if it were to be tied to an expansion of the school day/year.
    I'm guessing I'm going to be vilified for this, but there it is.

  • Jewels Bungalow owner

    I appreciate you soliciting opinions on the proposed tax increase. I have to say that I'm torn. I'm not necessarily opposed to the increase, but would feel better about it if I thought it was the only one coming down the pike. I am a childless homeowner.

  • Mr. Cullerton, I must say I'm impressed by your efforts to keep communications open between yourself and we constituants.

    I have always been willing to pay taxes to support the CPS, even though I send my kids to private school, because I know that educated youth are a benefit to the entire community. Yes, the burdon should be distributed more evenly as we ALL benefit from our community kids being occupied, educated and socialized to become better members of the community, But no, I will not object to paying a little more. Our youth are our greatest asset, and no expense should be spared in making them the best they can be.

    Then again, consider the "constituancy" of this site. I'll bet there is not a whole lot of disagreement on this point here :-)

  • Thanks for opening this up to discussion. I am a CPS Teacher and have three children in CPS, am a property owner and do not support a tax hike. It is not about the $84, but believe it should come from a universal source. We know that there is more fat to trim from the CPS budget, especially when other schools and programs are being funded by CPS money and we can't even fund our own schools/students. There are many other points, but just to keep it simple, I do not support a tax hike. Maybe a robocall to 38th ward residents could help reach a wider audience. Thanks again for your interest.

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    45th ward here,Been here since 1955.We have seen Daley build all kinds of additions to all the schools over the years,seen school equipment locked up in storerooms unused,dropout rates climb,I think another tax increase to pay for teachers pensions is uncalled for at this time.That's what the tax hike is all about anyway right? Why do homeowners have to continue to pay for schools? I haven't used a Chicago public school since the 70's. My daughter dropped out of a gang filled Schurz in the late 80's. Homeowners are not getting a good return on the money being dumped into the public school system.

  • Inactive user

    Thanks for opening this discussion. Me, my taxes come out of my it doesn't bite as hard. I was at the credit union downtown this week and the man next to me was a senior. He was withdrawing a large amount. The gentleman said he was paying his property tax!
    That said,...many say it's dinner and a movie for a couple. I see a bigger problem. I don't like that seniors or people who've raised their kids already and are trying to maintain their property in the city, living off a tight budget should have to pay. I have a problem with renters...those renters who contribute little to neighborhoods and have lots of kids who, too, benefit from the schools. I know there are wonderful responsible families who rent, but we all know, here in the 38th there are many renters who cause havoc in homeowners lives, have the kids who have little respect and renters who jack up a landlord and not pay their rent because it will take 3 to 4 months to evict. I see it too often...right here in our neighborhood. I have three school age children and I am grateful for good schools in our neighborhood. I am just not sure how I would feel if I were without children, living check to check to support my condo or house and being hit with this tax when it's going into a system that is not showing a turnaround.

    We will not see the political promises of longer school days or recess anytime soon. Many pulling in 100k to 150k are grandfathered in and allowed to live in Northbrook and other suburbs. Teachers are voting for a strike when the average starting salary for CPS is 75k. Really. Short work day and summers off, no questions asked. Look at private school teachers. Put out a better product for MUCH less pay and no union. I think they should cut the fat out of salaries in CPS and let the teachers feel a bit of a pinch like everyone else does.

  • Alderman Cullerton,

    I had planned to call your office on this very matter, so thank you for soliciting input here -- I truly appreciate that you seek to open the dialogue with your constituents.

    The mayor and the city council need to first conduct (or finish) an emergency evaluation of all the TIF districts and move to rescind all those that were not driven by legitimate community business district blight, but by political expedience or malfeasance. The mayor's TIF Task Force is not working fast enough -- considering the tremendous CPS budget deficit and many other agencies' budget deficits.

    It is time that that infamous "slush fund" be returned and distributed to the rightful taxing authorities -- including the Chicago Public Schools, before the mayor and city council even consider the school board's "proposal" to raise property taxes and further add to the TIF slush fund surplus. Even in cases where there was a legitimate TIF district need, many TIF districts have very little development to show for the property tax dollars that they have spent/hoarded (see Six Corners). Our tax dollars should be spent via the City's, County's or agency's annual and capital budget process.

    I would not want to see one more cent of my or my neighbors' property taxes expropriated into the Portage Park or West Irving Park TIF (my home is on the margins of both of these TIF districts). I am willing to pay my share in taxes to fund schools, city services and programs, libraries, forest preserves, parks long as the money is indeed being distributed to the appropriate taxing body to spend, and only if the money is spent judiciously -- that is, not being used to award contracts for cronies, hire patronage employees or spent on duplicative, wasteful, inefficient, unnecessary or fraudulent city contracts, services, and programs.

    Perhaps you could be the alderman to make sure the Mayor's TIF Task Force is indeed on task.
    Thank you.

  • Alderman Tim Cullerton 38th Ward 38th Ward Alderman

    Roy, Jewels, Eric, Edna, Gene, Richard & Kim....thanks so much for taking time to reply. There are many different opinions on this issue and I hope to hear from many more individuals on this topic. I am especially concerned about our Seniors who are on a fixed income and our younger homeowners who are "underwater" on their mortgages. $84 a year may not seem like much to many, but it's alot of money to those who already have to go without food, heat and/or electricity in order to pay their mortgage and taxes so they don't lose their homes. Kim, I totally agree with you regarding the TIF issue - you have raised an important issue here. Roy, you are no villain,,,we all want to do the right thing by our children and schools...nothing to apoligize for here,
    Thanks again for your comments and please encourage your friends and neighbors to join in - the more ideas and opinions I receive, the better!

  • Kim has expressed my thoughts to a "T"......

    I'll add these.

    While the $84 dollars may not be much as broken down on a monthly basis, if you pay a mortgage that has an escrow account, the mortgage holder will increase that portion of your monthly payment much more than the $7 a month that the tax increase breaks down to.
    If you can escape the escrow trap, do so.

    Next, as a product of the public schools from over 30 years ago, and as someone involved in hiring decisions, I see little return on our investment in the present day system. The neighborhood elementary & high schools are neglected and most of their graduates are ill prepared for skilled trades let alone higher education. The partnerships with neighboring companies & the local schools have also all but disappeared.
    Many of the magnet & selective enrolment institutions are either run by special interests or for profits. Not where I want my tax money to go. Same for proposals for vouchers to private institutions.

    The state also must to adhere to its mandate to adhere to equitable funding & educational opportunities throughout the state's school districts. The General Assembly is where most of the problems lie.

  • odette 22-year resident of 38th ward, stay at home mom

    I too have children at CPS and am a homeowner. I DO NOT support an increase in taxes. It is bad enough that even in the public school my children attend (smyser), the parents are asked to pay a $100 "school fee" per child. When was the last time CPS was audited. Let us see how they spend and manage the money. Also why was the recently held event "Lollapooloza" exempt from paying taxes?? political connections? everything always falls on the dwindling number of homeowners, Not fair.

  • I do not want to contribute more money into a failing system. As a property owner, with no children, I believe that we should be providing an education to the children of Chicago, but we are not doing that right now and I do not believe throwing more money at CPS is the answer. Clean up the wasteful spending show me a return on my investment and I'll be willing to invest further.

  • Our daughter attended Catholic grammar and high schools and is now in college. Public schools in our area are better than other parts of the city but we wanted the religious education. I understand the argument against vouchers even though some kind of break would have been very helpful, since those of us who sent their children to parochial schools were, nevertheless, subsidizing public education. We are strapped like everybody else and I do not want to pay any more. I consider this a back door tax for a service we do not share in, unlike taxes supporting streets and sanitation, police, fire, etc. I also support an audit of CPS and agree with Roy who wrote that the funding structure needs to be revamped and "should not be based solely on local property tax, but be much more equitable for all school districts in Illinois." Thanks for offering this survey.

  • All that I have to say is IT IS $7 BUCKS A MONTH!!!!! $84 a year on a $250,000 home, which is probably more that most homes in this area are accessed at, is nothing. My daughter goes to Catholic school because the Chicago schools are substandard. We need to fix the schools, which will on turn help fix our neighborhoods. I will happily pay $84 a year to help make these schools a bit better.
    Thank you for asking Alderman Cullerton.

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    Please look at your property tax bill and just how much of it goes to education,it is more than half of the bill.More money goes to education than to the city or the county for services rendered .Since the 70's,people have been spouting,its for the children,its for the children,well,then why can't high school students read at a high school level.? Read your property tax bill,look at where the money goes.The community is being shortchanged by the CPS.

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    Throwing money at education has never worked.Not in the last 50 years.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    Thanks Alderman Cullerton for asking...I support increased taxes for our school system assuming that all other options have been thoroughly vetted / considered. I support hard working teachers 150%. I support PTA's and parent organizations that go the extra mile to make sure our schools get what they need when district funds fall short. The Chicago Public School system has some of the best schools in the state at both the elementary and high school level. It also has some of the worst,,,and everything in between. We need to make sure all children in our community receive a good education.

  • Chicago Mama Independence Park resident

    I support a tax hike, BUT I'd rather see CPS remove itself from the taxing bodies giving their money to TIF districts.

  • Paul Informed

    I am a property owner, father and tax payer. I am also a product of CPS (K-12)and can say with all absolute conviction that the problem is not a shortage of funds for CPS, but an utter and vile waste of tax payer funds.

    Big government thinks the solution to budget ignorance, waste, corruption and ineptitude is to simply throw more money at it. Wrong. We have tried that for decades and decades and it has not worked.

    Nor will it ever when the cancerous sore is the waste of what is already slated for CPS.

    Just a few weeks ago we had the report of the Chicago Public school that was caught throwing out in the dumpster scores of brand new school supplies, books, materials, teacher resources, etc.

    What was their response when a few non main-stream media outlets reported on it? For people to donate school supplies to CPS.

    Can you believe the nerve? It's akin to never living within the means given to you by your neighbor and then when called out on it you ask him for more of his money.

    I can go on and on, but will end my soap box rant here.

  • I do agree with Paul.
    I absolutely love that Rahm is cutting a lot of the typical city BS. I also know that CPS teachers aren't doing too bad in regards to pay and time off, especially when you are comparing them to average Chicagoans. (And I have 2 sisters that are CPS teachers...). Personally, I would love it if Rahm could find some wasteful ways to cut spending with CPS. I just really think everyone needs to really concentrate on the fact that these schools seriously suck. Crappy schools only lead to bored and uneducated kids, which leads to crime, drugs, gangs, etc... I also strongly believe that that school day needs to be extended and would LOVE to see year long school for this city.

  • Inactive user

    First of all, it is irrational to think that renters do not pay property taxes. Landlords build their costs plus profit into rent. Property taxes are rolled into that number. I am a homeowner now, but I certainly paid property taxes as a renter.

    Second, of course I would prefer not to pay higher taxes. I would also like to have confidence in CPS (I do have a four-year old). However, CPS is currently in a very deep hole, and it will take time and work to make CPS a decent system. Until then, we need to keep the lights on.

  • Nor64 28 year resident of PP.

    I do not think home owners should be taxed for the CPS. I send my children to a Catholic school and don't feel I should have to pay the the public school as well. I know it is my choice to send my children to a private school but if I do not use the City's school system why should I have to pay for it? I thought years ago when the Illinois Lottery started some of that money was going to the CPS. No, I am not supporting the tax increase.

  • Nor is it "fair" that property tax payers (residential & commercial) are subsidizing non-secular institutions (including their schools) through banket exemptions to pay property taxes, water, sewer, et al........

  • Inactive user

    I agree that good renters help to defray the cost of taxes for a homeowner. Trust me, in this economy...ask homeowners how much money they lost on a bad tenant, especially a bad tenant with kids. I am far from putting all in the same box, but trust me when I say that 3 to 4 months of a bad tenant wipes out any "profit" or "built in" taxes. The reason I brought this up in my original post was because I saw how it rolled over to the already taxed school system.

    I see the school system, in this area as good. I see it from all facets. Back to the many have posted, it's not the cure. It's like giving your kids a roll of quarters at the arcade....and you thought that was going to complete the experience.....your kids will be back for the next roll and not be able to tell you what games they played or what they did with the quarters. Thus the accountability of the CPS go into an LSC meeting and out!!!

  • Mike

    Alderman Cullerton,
    I have to throw my hat in the ring against the increase. I see nothing to indicate that this increase could not be offset through cutting of waste. I feel that we homeowners are getting pinched far too much. Before proposing any such increase, I would need to see a genuine effort to cut spending.

  • Jenny G. Forest Glen homeowner

    Absolutely I would not support this, as my husband and I do not, nor plan on ever having children. We do not make a lot of money. Just because we are homeowners, we should not have to financially support other people's children's education.

  • Sue Portage Park-er

    Thanks for asking Alderman, NO I do not support a raise in property tax for CPS. Enough of my property tax is going to the schools already. I don't undervalue the importance of educating Chicago's children but I think we all know too much money is spent on programs with no educational value. CPS needs to cut waste and spending. If that means you can't serve a kid breakfast every morning so be it, their parents should be doing that.

  • I would NOT support this!! I have always had my child in Catholic schools and do not ever plan to use CPS! Just because I am a homeowner I should not have to financially support CPS!!

  • Jill Treehouse view of Jeff Park

    I hope that homeowners realize that EVERYONE pays property taxes! the minute my landlord is hit with an increase they pass it on to the renters. Additionally, I support the increase despite having no children. I would prefer to live in a city that educates the future paramedics, police, firefighters, food workers and inspectors.

  • Inactive user

    As Bill the Engineer pointed out before . . . we all support religious schools through the property tax exemption they receive. Just because your kid is in Catholic school doesn't mean the rest of us aren't kicking in for your kid as well. That's how society works. We are all contributing for societal goals, not choosing off a menu of what we like and what we don't. I have never had a fire at my house, so I want a refund of my taxes for fire fighters. What do you guys think?

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    Alderman Cullerton, let me be honest and say that in spite of being a great supporter of public schools, I'm having trouble meeting my taxes are they are. I can't seem to get the city to give me my homestead exemption, and I'm just a bit too young for a senior one. $84 doesn't sound like a lot and normally I wouldn't balk, but it's just another straw.

    So I believe it's fair -- like David F. I think that public schools aren't just about whether your kids use them or not, but rather about our collective future. But if I'm being selfish, then no. I don't like the idea.

    Aren't there other ways to fund schools? What about "sin" taxes? Maybe we can use money from alcohol and tobacco taxes to educate kids in the pitfalls of abusing the former or using the latter at all.

  • Inactive user

    Hi Alderman Cullerton, I just saw a piece on the news about how the mayor has secured a million or two, from private donors and businesses to secure prinicipal bonuses! How does that make sense, being that he wants to hit up the homeowners for more taxes. Ironically, I mentioned prinicipal salaries in my first response to you. The average principal in this area is making upwards of 150k. That's a good chunk of change. So, there is no money, got to lay off teachers and support staff and now they are thinking of throwing 5 to 10 thousand at the principals for increased test scores? THIS IS TOTALLY OUTRAGEOUS!!!! Don't you think those private donor funds should go to the shortfall before bonuses, considering the teachers took a hit on their raises in June. I am stunned!!!!

  • Alderman Tim Cullerton 38th Ward 38th Ward Alderman

    Just a note to thank each of you for your input on this topic. So far, I'm really on the fence on this matter as there are good comments on both sides of this issue. Thanks too for staying on topic and for NOT demonizing those with opposite opinions. Please continue the discussion...I am following each comment very closely!

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    So,the majority on this site say no.Where are the others who say you should?I met Governor Quinn back when he wasn't governor twice in 1988 when Harold Washington was mayor.Quinn came to a rally on Milwaukee and swore he would get property taxes lowered. Jim Tobin organized and we marched on city hall and the county.Tobin instructed all of us to look at our tax wasn't the city or the county who caused our property taxes to double and triple back then,it was education. Quinn held a meeting at the place across from St,Adalbert's cemetery,I attended. It was obvious then,that Pat Quinn was more interested in getting himself elected than he was in lowering property taxes. I have had to cut back immensely on things that I could have had just to keep the family home since then. The state keeps taking more and more money from homeowners for education and the money seems to be going to teachers pensions instead of educating the children. I have seen the taxes raise on my property,even now when home values have fallen 25 % .How is that possible that our property tax bill goes up when the value of our houses has dropped? Teaching children was just as important when I was growing up as it is now,only now you would think that with internet access,we would be raising a bunch of geniuses instead of the illiterate dropouts that are being processed in our schools.Money is not the solution.Never has been,never will be.

  • With all respect and sympathy towards all who have vehemently objected to "paying to educate other peoples' kids", to paraphrase, I'd just like to point out that should these kids that we all pay to educate lose the public schools, they will be roaming the streets trying to make a living, one way or another. Worse comes to worst, I'd much rather be paying to school them than to jail them. It's far cheaper, and better for everyone in the long run.

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    Cheaper for who? The schools have done a great job of keeping gangbangers out of school now scaring kids with drugs and guns,making the kids go through metal detectors.My parents did not pay as much for education,nor did I when my daughter went to gang infested Schurz.And how can you say that schools are keeping children out of jail?It is the parents responsibility to raise their children to keep them out of jail. School is supposed to educate children not feed them and try to teach them morals that elected officials cannot follow. Really Eric,saying that kids would be in jail instead of school is a cop out and excuse for the theft from taxpayers by the CPS,and an insult to every parent.

  • Do your homework, Gene.
    1. That's "for whom".
    2. Your grammar is very hard to follow.
    3. My folks didn't pay as much for a loaf of bread, either. Straw man argument.
    4. You think the kids with no school or job will be good little citizens who play parcheesi in their spare time? Do you know how gangs recruit? They prey on kids with no support at home and who need a sense of belonging and respect. Hard to get with no grades or paycheck.
    5. Parents responsibility? You think? Of course the parents are the only ones who suffer when the kids get in trouble, right? We could put the whole family in jail, I guess. Wonder what that would cost.
    6. True about many of OUR ELECTED officials, but where's the relevance here? Straw man.
    7.Perhaps I have insulted you, but given your response, I can live with that. Claiming I've insulted every parent is a weak attempt on your part to presume popular support. Failed.

  • Paul Informed

    Using the old adage of "but if we don't raise taxes the kids will turn into criminals..." is disingenuous.

    Gangs recruit those that glamorize the gangbanging rap/ghetto lifestyle. It does not have much to do with the 1960's mentality of them recruiting the kids who have no support at home. Though yes the destruction and dumbing down of the family structure leads to kids with no morals, no self-respect, no respect for others, no aspirations towards being productive citizens.

    It does not take a village to raise a child; it takes a family. Preferably a two parent home where the parents priorities are their children and not their next club outing or rims or nation business (that's gang business for those of you not in tune with inner-city lingo).

    Like I stated earlier, I am a product of the inner-city. A product of Chicago Public Schools from K through 12. And never ever did any of those years have me admiring, liking, or seeking out gang banging. Even when my high school literally did not have teachers for certain courses or enough books for all of the class.

    The problem with CPS is not a lack of funds, but a lack of fiscal responsibility and accountability.

  • Paul Informed

    (continued) These class envy individuals are farther away than ever from the words of President Lincoln who said, "You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves."

    Everything some people stand for today is the polar opposite of this guiding American principle.

    It's a telling sign when it seems that our national symbol should be replaced. At our current pace, it will no longer be apt for it to be an American eagle. But instead a sow, a pig, that is being suckled by so many interests that it is being run dry.

    There is nothing wrong with having social programs and such designed to help those in need. For it may one day be you or me. But history has shown that the private sector, the religious sector, the non-profit sector has always done a better job in doing so than a government entity.

    And throwing more and more money at utter wasteful management practices is no different than giving the scammer at the Montrose avenue exit of the Kennedy another dollar for his drugs and hookers.

  • Paul, I'm willing to agree to disagree, but to call me disingenuous is not appreciated. You seem to imply that I am pushing an agenda for my own benefit. I have better things to do.
    Why don't we all return to the issue of the tax, and steer away from the ideological influences that we bring to our opinions. They are getting in the way, as always.

  • Paul Informed

    Eric - I did not name you. What I stated as being disingenuous is the argument that was attempted.

    It's in the same faulty scare tactic boat as class-envy and that is a whole other topic I would love to get back on the soap box about. ;p

  • For those under the impression that this is a tax increase without cuts, that's incorrect.

    From a recent news article......

    "Officials hope to save more than $320 million by streamlining departments within the central office, cutting middle management positions, forgoing 4 percent cost-of-living increases to teachers, scaling back police patrols on school campuses, redrawing bus routes.
    Cuts include 300 teaching positions; mentoring programs for at-risk students; bilingual education; literacy initiatives; extracurricular math, science and technology clubs and other after-school programs; and academic assistance for some of the district's lowest-performing students. The combined cost savings will be approximately $87 million."

    Now, are the cuts at the Central Office sufficient? Assuredly not.
    Are these student centered & class room cuts appropriate? Well, if the mission is to provide quality education, then those cuts put the mission at further risk of failure.

    If it's a matter of these programs or a tax hike, I'm in favor of the tax hike.

  • However, critical things must happen for the long term.
    Reliance on the property tax for education in Illinois is unsustainable. The General Assembly must do its job and correct it.
    The CPS bureaucracy has much redundancy & inefficiency that pays little serious attention to the concerns of students, parents and front line educators.
    The CTU should halt their adversarial approach, and partner in identifying inefficiencies, such as work rules that they support which make no sense in today's world.
    The demonization of teachers & principals must stop. The vast majority do an outstanding job. Those that don't should be put on a corrective path, and let go if results don't come quickly. CPS teachers also don't make a salary killing, and they don't retire wealthy people. The influence of anti-union rhetoric is obvious to this unaffiliated professional.

    And for those that are under the impression that CPS is a total failure, tell CPS educated kids that are inducted into the National Honor Society and other honors programs every year that they are failures. They could be your next boss......

    .......and apologies for the long winded commentary.

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    Eric,read Paul's reply.Where are your facts supporting your claim that says we'd all be better off by paying more taxes ?
    Put it in grammar and use facts that I can understand because obviously your grasp of the English language and following a train of thought is so much more comprehensive than mine. The alderman liked the fact that people who responded to this kept it clean. Your liberal assumptions that paying more in taxes will cure all is a fallacy that has been proven over and over again the last 5 decades. Look at the history of the public schools,look at the waste and bureaucratic mess that has been entrusted with our childrens future.Look at the outstanding drop out rate of the CPS.
    Gangs? gangs are not the same as they were in the 60's or 70's.Teachers had control of their classes and troubled youth in gangs were evicted.Now the gangs hold the children in fear.We never fought with guns Eric,just fists and an occasional switchblade or pocket knife. If a kid didn't want to belong to a gang,there was a fight and either a kid joined or didn't. There was not the constant recruitment that goes on now.
    The relevance Eric, about elected officials,and morals being passed down to the children from the elected officials whom dictate what is school policy.Morality should be learned at home and unfortunately throughout history no one can agree on the same morals. Schools were created for children to learn about Math science,history,not to feed them and force socialist dogma into their brains where they no longer care if they learn or not.It is the system that needs to be fixed Eric and it must be fixed on a fundamental level.
    Throwing money at the problem is just ignoring the problem.I hope that is in a context which you can follow.If you would like I will get some of my grasndsons teachers to put it into a sentence structure you might find acceptable.

  • OK, Paul. Passive voice won't save you :-)
    But I'm not one to engage in scare tactics, and that was not my intent. I am merely trying to emphasize why we have public schools in the first place. I agree with everyone that has pointed to the waste and corruption that seems endemic in the CPS, and that it desperately needs to be addressed and fixed. This should be one of the highest priorities of our elected officials, and we as voters must pay attention and remember at election time. In the meantime, it's my feeling that as long as I can afford to, and for now I can, I will pay taxes intended for the CPS, and trust to my representatives to fix the problems that exist.

  • EveryBlock Becca Director of Community Management

    Hey everyone, just a reminder about our community guidelines. Please keep the conversation on-topic and focused on the ward. In addition, please avoid making personal attacks. Regardless of the topic, our goal is to keep all the conversations on the site neighborly and friendly.

    Thanks for your cooperation.

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    Alderman Cullerton, you thanked us for being nice too soon.

  • Inactive user

    "So far, I'm really on the fence on this matter as there are good comments on both sides of this issue."

    Alderman, I have two questions about this. First, with all due respect, is there anything the City Council can do about this? Isn't CPS able to tax on its own?

    Second, it is really interesting to hear you say that you are on the fence on this issue. Have you thought about serious alternatives to the current system? I'd be interested to see what you are cooking up.

  • Inactive user

    @Tracy, just ignore the holy warriors and trolls. Think of it as an exercise in mental discipline.

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    David, I've been on the internet since the 80s; this should roll right off my back, but sometimes it just backs up on me, y'know? It seems like it gets worse, less civil, every year.

  • Albert F. Opitz Back in the 38th Ward

    Although I am no longer, I thought I'd throw in my two cents worth. There are a lot of concerns, 1) TIFs rob the school system of up to $500 million a year. 2) The bussing system costs $150+ million. 3) The slight of hand with gambling money. When I started school they had a class called hoome mechanics, which taught some household skills. Now they teach you how to pass and hope to go to college. Not every body can go to college, there are well paying jobs in the trades, which there is a demand for people (And not just building trades)!

  • Inactive user

    @Albert, the point about programs not geared to college is an excellent one. When I went to Lane (late 1980s) most of the shops were woefully outdated, but the basics of some trades, and the opportunity to realize you enjoyed something were there. Now I believe they have all been removed. That is a shame. Frankly, I use what I learned in drafting, electric shop, and wood shop more now (as an attorney) than I do any other topic.

  • Albert F. Opitz Back in the 38th Ward

    I'm Class of '57. When we had our reunion, we asked about shop classes and were told that they can't find teachers to teach shop. (Yea! Right!) I have to marvel how we got through school and many got PhD's, became engineer and successful in other fields and we had a school of 5700. Now 4700 is crowded. My uncle graduated with a class of 1300. How did we Manage???

  • Inactive user

    Albert, I graduated with 950. Going into Lane was a big transition, but going from Lane to Champaign-Urbana was a breeze. I felt really prepared both educationally and psychologically.

    This is a little off topic, but it is also a reminder of what this argument is about. It isn't only Gene's daughter at gang-infested Schurz, it's also all the people here who really were educated by CPS and achieved at the highest levels. My class at Lane sent something like eight freshmen to U of Chicago. There must have been more than 30 of us at Champaign-Urbana.

    There are good things happening in CPS, and we need to figure out how to maximize the good, minimize the bad, and do it for an amount we can afford. I just don't see trying to check out of the system as furthering those goals.

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    How about an investigation into why the lottery doesn't fulfill its mission instead of just dropping money into the general fund.Give the taxpayers what they asked for.

  • Albert F. Opitz Back in the 38th Ward

    I agree with DavidF, We are putting money into what a system, we believe, will educate our kids, and not always geting the most bang for the buck!I got involved with Wright College, (I went thru school the hard way, nights) and the college system report that only 7% graduate after 4 years. However,they fail to mention that the number raises to 13% after 6 years. But the report mentions that there is a lot ot remedial classes to bring students up to par. (Too complicated to go too far on this page) But why the remediation from students that graduate from high schools! See 7% Solution printer in the Reader a couple of weeks ago.

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    I agree with Norine.Seniors who have put their children through CPS and grandchildren through CPS should not have to keep paying more money with a broken corrupt system.They have paid their fair share,time to decrease the education part on the property tax bills and for one,let the lotto begin its roll as intended.Number 2 raise the state tax on school supplies,gym shoes,cigarettes,beer,food,to make sure everyone pays their fair share,not just property owners who have been getting the shaft since 1988.Heck's Catering left shortly after that.Paul Heck lived down the alley from me,told city officials,the taxes are too high,he was leaving.For those of you who can't see the correlation here,I'll spell it out.Heck's catering was a thriving business on Milwaukee Avenue.When the business left because of a hike in his education portion,tax money that revenated out of his place of business dried up when his doors closed.The education portion has continued to elevate at an alarming rate.It is an unfair system designed to get money out of your pockets.

  • Alderman Tim Cullerton 38th Ward 38th Ward Alderman

    In repy to question #1, the City Council could vote against the tax levy (although I don't think that will happen, but who knows for sure)? If so, it could force CPS to go back and find more cuts, or it could result in a mini "debt ceiling" type of showdown, something that none of us would really want to see happen.
    In reply to question #2, a) I have always favored an elected school board that is directly accountable to the electorate, but that would take legislative action by the General Assembly - something that I don't see happening in the near or far future; b) I don't think that it is "equitable" for homeowners alone to pay the cost of public education through property taxes, especially in these very difficult economic times when we have young couples struggling to fight off foreclosure and Seniors who are on a fixed income, all of whom cannot sell their homes if they wanted to - we should distribute these costs equally among all citizens who have the financial means to afford them, perhaps in the form of an independent education tax; c) I agree with an earlier comment by Kim that we need to stop skimming TIF tax revenues away from our parks and schools - a little more than half of our property taxes go to public education, so it would follow that if we returned 1/2 of the annual TIF revenues (approx. $250 million out of a total of $500 million annually) to public education, we could easily reduce or eliminate the need for this tax increase.
    (continued next thread)

  • Alderman Tim Cullerton 38th Ward 38th Ward Alderman

    I also think that, under the present circumstances, CEO Brizard and his top staff should take a voluntary 5 or 10% pay cut as a sign of good faith - his assistant, Tim Cawley (@$215,000 a year) lives in Winetka and was granted a 2 year residency grace period so his child could finish grammar school in that community - I think that's a bit insensitive to the people and taxpayers of Chicago and the CPS employees and teachers who are required to live in the city, shop in the city and pay sales and property taxes in the city while Mr. Cawley's property taxes go to the Village of Wilmette.
    Finally, there has been little or no talk of addressing the social issues that make it next to impossible for many of our children to receive a good education. As a building inspector with the city for 33 years, I have worked in every neighborhood from Roseland, Hegwish, Woodlawn, Austin, Pilsen, Englewood and all the rest. I have seen the worst of the worst and until we address the issues of poverty, drugs, gangs, violence, hunger and broken families, our ability to deliver even basic reading, writing and math skills to our children in these depressed areas will be thwarted no matter how much money we put into the system. I don't have the answer to all of these problems.....I only wish I did....

  • Albert F. Opitz Back in the 38th Ward

    To DavidF, OPPs! I forgot you graduated with a full year class, When I went to Lane we had two classes a year. So, I guess, my class woul have been arond a 1000. My Uncle's would have been around 1800+. Remember the Lane Marching song "8000 strong".

  • Class of '78...... ;)

  • For a point of comparison, many friends & relatives are in neighboring counties. Their property tax bills reflect education funding percentages just as high as ours, with dollar amounts just as high if not higher. Their kids attend(ed) "good schools". I'm not convinced that it's done them much good.
    Others live in Wisconsin. Those individuals place more value on the sports programs than educational opportunities, which they are more than willing to cut to the bone through staff cuts and educator compensation. But they sure do howl when the sports programs are affected......

  • Inactive user

    Alderman, there are a lot of your points I don't agree with. However, I do appreciate your putting forth a thoughtful, holistic approach to CPS' problems.

    Please consider the following: everyone who lives in dwelling pays property tax, directly or indirectly. If you imposed a new tax property owners would also have to pay that tax. There would be no net gain for those people. Seniors who bought their homes in 1970s, or 1980s dollars can sell their homes today and walk away with cash. They may have missed the top of the market, but they still have historical growth from when they purchased. Not all teachers are required to live in the city, and none of them are required to shop in the city.

    Albert and Bill, I am reminded over and over again what a great opportunity Lane was. Conversation like this are also reminders. Thanks.

  • Lots of great points already made. At this point, I do not support an increase in taxes for the public schools. I just don't think enough has been done so far to reduce waste, streamline systems, and manage the resources they have. It's a huge system and I don't think Brizzard or Rahm have really gotten their arms around the whole mess. Also, I'm afraid this is just the start of many more taxes/fees to come - keeping them under $100 so it doesn't seem like much on a monthly basis. Hey, we'll all probably forget about it anyway....and the next one will hit!

  • Michelle Mostly lazy

    A couple of points: 1) the $84 is an "average', many of us will be paying a lot more to balance out the extremely low income neighborhoods. 2) Ald Cullerton I feel on the fence too and I will articulate why. On one side we want to do right by the kids and we know that a good education benefits all. On the other side, the adults responsible for running the system for the kids have proven they do not do a good job.

    So given that, throwing more money at the problem is not going to solve the underlying root of the problem. The system needs to be changed from within to be more streamlined and efficient. So I go with no increase.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    Reading thru all these responses....I have a question. And I am not trying to be provocative - I am curious and I just don't know. How do we know CPS is corrupt and mis-managed and bloated? Everyone throws that idea around like it is a fact. Is there a report that shows this? Has someone done the comparison to another large city that has a much more efficient and better run school system? How do we know if they have done enough to cut waste (maybe they have and we just need to see evidence of this). When was the last time they asked for an increase in funding?

  • Some of the information that you seek is here Missy.......

    The lack of details suggests that an independent audit should be the first thing that takes place.

  • Albert F. Opitz Back in the 38th Ward

    Personally, the $84 is not that big of a deal, however I wonder if it's the real number. Seems as if the numbers get thrown around where will it stick???

  • Albert F. Opitz Back in the 38th Ward

    DavidF, Your are almost correct. Yes, the seniors can walk away, but can they sell???

  • Inactive user

    Albert, of course they can. At the right price everything can be sold. Plenty of buyers still qualify for loans, and plenty of people can buy houses. The question is always getting the seller's expectation to match the reality of the market . . .

  • Albert F. Opitz Back in the 38th Ward

    To Bill, Sports are BIG business. I pay for them on cable even though I don't watch. Sports offer kids hope, but you're dropped like a hot potato after you reach 35, if you get that far! Meanwhile, the corporations go overseas to recruit for technical help and schools push the liberal arts, which allows you serve hamburgers, but fade on technical skills (engineering) and trades!!

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    David, I think the question might more properly be, can they afford to sell in this market?

  • Inactive user

    Tracy, this is off-topic, but if I had $50,000 of equity in my home and could not pay $87 a year in increased taxes the question would be could I afford not to sell. $50,000 in equity is not unrealistic, even now, for people who bought before the bubble started. Remember, I am talking about the mythical lived-here-forever-can't-pay taxes senior, not people who bought in the last 5-10 years. Very different situations (potentially). Also, I am assuming that someone who bought 30 years ago has no mortgage.

    At the end of the day I just have a hard time buying the theoretical senior who can't pay taxes. There are certainly individuals in bad circumstances, but since the New Deal we've gone from seniors being the poorest segment of the population to the wealthiest. Children are now the poorest segment in America. Nevertheless, we are using the seniors as an excuse to avoid paying for schools. That I cannot support.

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    That's a good point, David, but those theoretical seniors do exist. One of the downsides to gentrification is soaring property taxes which is one of the reasons why neighborhoods lose their eldest residents.

    When I moved here, the previous owners were paying less than $3000 a year in property taxes. In just three years my taxes have gone to almost double that. It's hard enough being 60 and not having a senior exemption yet, but I can't imagine being 80 and living on social security and facing rising taxes which would threaten my ability to stay in my home.

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    David,please remember that not all seniors worked government jobs and are getting government pensions.The majority did not.And seeing that I have known many living on social security,they are not the wealthiest segment of the population.In fact,they miss the government cheese of the 80's.many peoples 401k's at work have tanked a few times,and not all unions live up to paying their pensions.My uncle was in the truck drivers union for 23 years,got into an argument with his boss,got fired,and never saw one dime from his union even tho he paid into it for 23 years.Many of the places I have worked,the boss made off with all the retirement money when he retired,causing others to lose what meager pensions they would have had.
    If a senior is on SSI and is also on Medicare and Medicaid,a good portion of his check disappears to those agencies.Obamacare did not blend Medicare and Medicaid and everyone else's health coverage into one giant system.
    All these problems for people who have paid into the system.
    Over the last two years the property values of our homes have fallen,mine at 24%.Now it seems only just that property taxes should also fall 24%. I am also one of those mythical people,lived here forever.Since 1988 I have paid 3 times in taxes what the house was worth when it was purchased .That is not myth,it is fact.
    Illinois really needs to find a equitable to pay education and quit relying on home owners and the CPS should immediately be audited.

  • Jill Treehouse view of Jeff Park

    Why is our system of funding schools based on property taxes? The disparity in funding schools in Illinois is the real inequity.

    If I lived in a wealthy neighboorhood my taxes would be higher and the amount per student would be over $1,000. A rural downstate community that has lost the one and only employer might only be able to spend $100 per student. Yet according to the Illinois Department of Education graduates of both systems have the same degree.

    As an employer how would you know what that degree was worth?

    Other states pool all property taxes accross the state and every child gets the same amount. Is that fair? It sounds right, but people who have achieved the upper level of success would cry foul.

    There has to be a better way to educated all children in Illinois to the level they need to succeed and not tap the well of property taxes.

  • Inactive user

    Gene and Tracy, I don't want to be the apostle of throwing old folks out of their homes. I also don't want to make policy by anecdote. I would just ask that the alderman pay attention to some bigger picture statistics and not be swayed by anecdotes when figuring out how to address tax issues.

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    David, I wouldn't think that of you. You always seem to be the voice of reason. I just wanted to jump in and say that deciding to leave a home you've lived in most of your life for financial reasons is pretty horrific. Even I, who benefited from such a sale, found the decision overwhelming.

  • Inactive user

    Tracy, I actually do understand that. I also know that being house-rich feels different from being cash-rich. I just don't want those things to be the basis of overarching policy decisions that we *all* have to live with for decades.

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    Dave I know that I am a legend in my own mind,but I am not mythical.i was raised here,I worked here,I got married here,I live here,I help raise my grandchildren here.The only time I wasn't here was when I was in service to our country.That was the only time I didn't pay taxes here.

  • Inactive user

    Gene, I am not and was not trying to attack you. My point is that the statistics across the country simply do not support the proposition that "seniors" in general cannot pay property taxes. Individual circumstances are what they are and may not match national statistics.

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    just like the mythical poor seniors I am sure there are mythical poor children brought into this world by mythical poor people. America is paved with streets of gold,therefore poor people are a myth. Do you know how many seniors have had to turn their homes over to churches because they couldn't afford their taxes or had to leave this neighborhood because of escalating property taxes? There have been way too many.Those are the statistics of Jefferson Park and Portage Park since the CPS went nuts in raising their portion of the property tax bill in 1988

  • I would be interested to see the documentation of that.

  • Inactive user is one link. It is not laid out as clearly as I would like, but the first paragraph is pretty clear. I think the NBER is a reasonable source. If someone knows something about them I don't please let me know.

  • Inactive user

    Bill, I assume you were talking to me with the documentation question.

  • No David, but I'm glad you posted it. I was referencing this comment from Gene..."Those are the *statistics* of Jefferson Park and Portage Park since the CPS went nuts in raising their portion of the property tax bill in 1988."

    Must be documented somewhere, correct?

    This much is fact.....Combined, the Senior Freeze & Senior Exemption on property taxes save those individuals & couples a significant amount of money.

  • Inactive user

    Sounds like David F likes to fan the flames....maybe a debate team would be in order....! The alderman was kind enough to solicit our opinion on this very important matter. Why don't we leave it there? Seems like a few days ago the Alderman summarized the input, for a second time and I assume he will take our concerns to the table. It seems this has gotten very off base here....kind of like the girl on the Wilson we have to beat a topic to death to be "right". Bottom line, the Alderman and many of us here in 38th know and experience daily, seniors, many of whom are living check to check, many of whom show up at the food pantry on Irving. Many, that I know, have taken what they have to bail out adult children. When seniors are forced out of neighborhoods it tears at the fabric of community. I value the seniors here in 38 and am humbled by the wisdom and gifts they bring to my family. Let's try to be nice to each other and respect the journey of the seniors in our community. Better they are here passing on the gifts of life to our children and us, instead of being warehoused somewhere. Nice too that the Alderman has them in his radar because I've lived in gentrifying neighborhoods where the Alderman didn't try to help seniors stay in their homes.

  • Inactive user

    Ah, Richard, the old misdirection. "I think we should stay on topic as I make a substantive point. By the way, you are wrong." Whatever. The alderman did ask for views and people did give them. That is good. God forbid that we actually test any of the premises that go into common arguments. Whatever. I will just unsubscribe from the thread so I am not tempted again.

  • John Lynch Sox Fan

    Thanks for opening this up for discussion Alderman Cullerton. I guess we can go back in time with what the Federal Government had in mind with "No Child Left Behind" where the education system was changed in such a dramatic way, that it not only contributed to a larger drop out rate, it also kept the students "disenfranchised" with learning.

    Who wants to learn to study for an exam, when in reality you are not learning, you are taking the exam itself and rehearsing it verbatim to "pass" and in that way, teachers have had to implement learning plans in this fashion.

    As far as paying for it, Its hard to swallow, since taxes went up at the state level this year and it did not really seem to make a difference, since we are still in the hole, so will we really see the CPS get back in the black if it happens?

    I like the idea of the the folks who are running CPS to take a cut across the board.

  • I guess my reaction is "Then what?" Cover the deficit with this $84 average hit to homeowners. But what will change / improve with how CPS budgets, strategizes, manages its mission going forward?

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    mark,I was sorry to see you write about no child left behind.Once again,accusing someone of failure does not correct the problem at hand.let's blame the federal government for the failed post office,department of education,Energy,homeland security,war on drugs,war on poverty,can we please move on and eradicate the ills facing the country instead of looking for someone to blame.You can fight city hall.
    The SunTimes ran an article on ACT scores today and in the article it stated that black communities aren't maintaining levels in science.Why is that? Why aren't all schools functioning with the same curriculum.There are geniuses aplenty in the working world in and around Chicago,it is a disgrace that we are not training our children how to be engineers and scientists.84 bucks a year,8400 bucks a year,the result will be the same until CPS puts the children as the first priority.

  • Albert F. Opitz Back in the 38th Ward

    To DavidF Social Security does help, but Readan' 401 ks and other retirement plans helped alot and senior also learned ways to save for retirement, inluding being left money in wills.

  • Dan OGrady 37 year resident of Norwood Park

    thanks for the open forum Ald little as 84.00 sounds, its never enough...its like putting a band aid on a severed head.....its cost almost 11,000 to educate 1 child in CPS, that would translate in educating 3 kids in Catholic Schools, thats a mind-boggling difference....when will the vouchers start so we can at least start to offer people some alternatives.....

  • Rosemarie Life long NWsider, 17 year resident of Old Irving

    Dan, I have served on my children's Catholic school board and I can tell you that the actual cost is not approximately $3500 per child as you state it is. At our school it is much closer to $9000 per student. The parish and archdiocese tend to subsidize the cost of educating the student which keeps tuition at a lower rate.

  • Rosemarie Life long NWsider, 17 year resident of Old Irving

    My thanks to Alderman Cullerton for asking for our input. I have a question that would need to be answered before I could state a definite opinion on the matter. It is my understanding that what is currently on the table with CPS teachers is a plan to link their raises to their students' performance on their standardized tests. If that is the case, I would be vehemently opposed to the proposed tax increase. If the philosophy being promoted by the higher ups at CPS is to "teach to the test" as opposed to promoting critical thinking, I would question their judgment on all levels of decision making.
    P.S. I'm a proud CPS (Haugan, Lane Tech) grad with 4 kids at Catholic grammar school and 1 at Lane. No bias for either public or parochial school systems.

  • Dmalikat CCoB Co-founder

    I don't live in the 38th ward, but I vote "no". Your vote is just as Important as my Alderman, Will Burns.

  • Albert F. Opitz Back in the 38th Ward

    As previously stated, the schools teach to pass the test, meanwhile, the Sun-Times stated that 3/4 of the H.S. Grads need to take remeadial classes to come up to par! Some of the private schools are having problems too. They can' keep up with the technology and the parents can't afford to pay. Note: Madona H.S. closed and Gordon went co-ed.
    I think the teachers need to be avaluated on performance and teaching, "NO child left behind" sounded good when it started, however it created more problems than it cured.

  • I think that" we the people "are tired of bailing out city, state, and government because they're all to busy lining their own pockets with our HARD earned money. I belive that all city state and government employees should have their wages frozen, until we are in the black, just like the rest of us little people. I also think that all employees that had acess to credit cards should be gone over with a fine tooth comb. Go back 10+ years and review all charges and if not pertaining to work.......that money should be reimbursed by each employee that chose to charge their red light tickets,lunches,birthday's,christmas presents,holiday parties, and anything else they thought they could get away with. I also think that there should be a limit to their vacation weeks and no overtime allowed. They should use their vacation time in that year and not be allowed to carry over to the next year....same with sick time. Use it or loose it. I think all overtime records for city state and government should be reviewed. There is no reson for someone to get $80,000.00 in overtime!

    If you check all utilitiy bills, the city and state taxes are on there too. What happened to free t.v. that no one had to pay an amusement tax on. We pay the highest prices in Gas in the nation because of the 'taxes' .

    OK so if we do accept the property tax increase..........what good will it do in the long run when none of us can afford to send our children to college because that is beyond our pockets too.

    Who's gonna bail us out......................!!!

    It doesn't stop there...... if you have Comcast, please go to the search section and look for these two movies that will open your eyes to the biggest problem. Inside Job which is narrated by Matt Damon and the other movie is,Too Big To Fail. If your blood isn't boiling after seeing should be, because those same people are in office till this day and look what's happening. Don't blame President Obama!

  • Thomas Motzny Last one out of Chicago please turn off the lights

    How did they let this get so out of hand?

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    because we the people trusted our government to take care of things. They took our trust and now are trying to rob us blind with taxes on everything,and more taxes on everything.And now they want to control every facet of our lives.And the cap and trade deal is nothing but a way to tax the air we breathe.

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    I think we need to discuss schools, Gene, not anyone's version of what's wrong with the government.

  • Thomas Motzny Last one out of Chicago please turn off the lights

    Don’t you think that the problems with the schools have a direct correlation with the problems in government? It the politicians that put the school CEO in charge with very little checks on them. It would be great to have a budget and not have to live within it structure. If there is a short fall do I tell my employer that I gave myself a raise and he has to pay me more because I need to pay my bills? Chicago has a very poor school system and we continue to spend good money after bad not fixing the problem just spending more money

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    "Chicago has a very poor school system"...I feel the need to defend all the students (past and present) that have attended CPS. There is no doubt bad schools (test scores prove that), but there are great schools and everything in between. In fact, some of the best schools in the state sit right within CPS. We need to figure out how to make it happen for all students (and that responsibility lies not only with teachers and administrators but with parents as well). I hate to watch friends that have kids move out of the city because they think suburban schools are better without giving CPS a chance because of this myth that CPS is "bad". CPS actually has some creative options that suburbs don't have (magnet schools that have specialties, selective schools, etc.). In the suburbs - you are going to the school closest to your house.

    Here is a great snap shot of Illinois schools from Trib last year. You will see several schools from CPS in first 2 columns and CPS not even listed for top spending per student in the last column.

  • Resident - 38th Ward 30 year 38th Ward resident

    I lean to the "NO" side of this question. Perhaps a much smaller increase is doable and could be tolerated. CPS needs to prove that it is not a lazy monopoly (I strongly favor vouchers). Beside
    kindergartern in the early 1950s I have never had much contact with CPS and as an outsider have had to accept the civic responsibility of paying taxes to this monster so I'd like to see
    a structure that proves CPS is not a lazy monopoly (i.e. vouchers).

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    Tracey,the reasons the schools are the way they are IS BECAUSE OF THE GOVERNMENT!

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    And what part of the government would that be? Or would that be all of it? Everywhere? Local, state and federal? Since the country was founded?

    Or do we just not have the "right" sort of government?

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    We can start with Daley's restructuring of the CPS,go to the state and the way they unfairly fund the school system through use of property tax ,then we can go to federal government that enforces bussing to this day,when if the local and system worked in unison,there would be no need for moving kids around on buses because all schools would have the same quality equipment and same caring teachers. Give me some more time and I will give you more examples Tracey.Let's talk about schools and lets get right to the root of the problem and that is the government role in them.What kind of right government do you support,one that spends beyond its means,you got that already.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    Here's a very good breakdown of how CPS is funded. Less than 40% is from property taxes.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    Gene - please clarify "busing" statement. The only busing I am aware of is the CTA bus (and sometimes sub-way) my daughter rides every day to get to her CPS high school.

  • Albert F. Opitz Back in the 38th Ward

    Busing was set up years ago to integrate the public schools. It is primarily elementary schools. It cause many problems including white flight. Another of income that was stripped from the schools system is rental income. At onetime the B of E owned Midway airport and property all over the City. Much of it was stripped by the City Council and general mismanagement.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    I thought that might be what he was referring to, but I thought that it had ended in Chicago some years ago. There are no public references to it's current existence that I can find (at least thru Google).

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    Gene, government economics, corporate economics and personal economics are three entirely different animals with different methods of dealing with surplus and deficit. You cannot apply the rules of any one to any of the others so talking about spending beyond your means is meaningless in terms of both government and corporate economics.

    Maybe it would be far more helpful to drop the overly broad, soapbox rhetoric about government spending and stick to the subject, though to be honest, this has already turned into a dead horse flogging party.

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    Tracey,I am asking a person of your obvious wisdom.Where did the public school system go wrong, what steps,in hindsight,should have been taken to prevent the drop-out from going under 70%,and what can we do to correct the current situation in which our children are not getting a great education,even tho the previous mayor added additions or totally replaced old school buildings throughout the city and the teachers all say they are doing their best? Where would you make corrections,or don't you think there are any to be implemented.And if you think they are fine,why do you endorse a tax hike on homeowners only for the children?
    And Tracey,in any economy,if you spend beyond your means,you are going out of business,unless you are a drug cartel,then you just kill the opposition.

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    Missy,60% of my property tax bill is for some sort of education.Now,I have put my daughter through the system and both grandsons through the system.Why do homeowners pay more for education in the state than anyone else? I have been a part of this neighborhood my entire life,I don't like seeing the gang fights that happened at Schurz on a daily basis,I don't like hearing from my grandsons that there are fights at Taft on a daily basis.When I grew up the only time the police were at the school was to arrest someone for selling fireworks or pot.
    And kids are bussed in to beaubien and farnsworth ,on yellow school buses , about 10 a day,and have been since the federal government forced Jane Byrne to implement busing or no federal funds.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    Every day from 1st-8th grade my daughter was on one of those yellow buses that went to Beaubien. They are regional gifted center and CPS provides buses for magnet schools. CPS only provides buses at the elementary level, not high school for magnet schools. Those kids are on that bus because their parents chose to put them on it, not the evil government. My point on %'s is that 60% of property bill is going to fund only 36% of the entire CPS budget. It is only a piece of the CPS funding pie.

  • Gene 50 year resident of Jeff Park

    Chicago Public Schools to reopen Friday; no student busing until next week

    District stresses the need for continuity in learning, provides resource

    February 3, 2011

    Chicago Public Schools will reopen on Friday, February 4, 2011, with bus service being suspended until the following Monday, Interim Chief Executive Officer Terry Mazany announced today.

    Mazany cited safety risks associated with transporting and transferring students from bus to school, particularly those buses that are equipped with special lifting equipment.

    Bus service will be suspended to CPS schools until next week when side streets and other critical access paths are cleared, Mazany said. Approximately 5 percent of the District’s 410,000 students are provided with bus transportation, about half of them special needs students.So,this was taken from the CPS website.It says 5 % of the CPS is bused.2.5% is special needs,that is necessary.the other 2.5 %,...And I am done with this government run school question.Thank you alderman for asking.

  • Jill Treehouse view of Jeff Park

    Just a suggestion, but if everyone of us that have been debating this topic to death spent a week in a classroom we might have a better idea of how to address this nationwide problem. I would be glad to volunteer for a community day at our schools. Actions speak louder than words.

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    Gene, the subject is the CPS and funding via property taxes. The question put to us was: " Is it fair for homeowners alone to pay for our public schools or would it be more equitable if these revenues came from a more universal source?" (You can go back and check; it's at the top of this page.) The discussion immediately became a finger-pointing exercise in which everyone seems to have a favorite scapegoat. What I'm suggesting is that we go back to the question at hand about what percentage of the CPS budget should come out of property taxes.

    Missy has very kindly provided us with a link that explains the breakdown of funding sources as well as the breakdown of where the funds go. It's enlightening and worth a read. As it happens, less than half CPS' funding comes from property taxes so the actual question seems to be moot. It is not homeowners who single-handedly fund the CPS system. The question might more properly be are Chicagoans willing to see an X% raise in property taxes to increase their share of funding for Chicago schools?

    Do I want to get into how the schools may have gone wrong? Not particularly as it's not at issue here. You say we can't spend more than we have, but that's a fallacy. Not only is it an accepted way to leverage your assets to increase your net worth (getting a mortgage to buy a home or a loan to buy a car) but in a large system such as a corporation or a government it becomes a critical part of cash flow.

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    I'm sorry Gene, but what on earth does that quoted text have to do with anything? Are you saying that CPS should drop bus service for special needs kids? Five percent of the students in the district are provided with bus service half of which are special needs kids. It says so right in the passage you quoted. What is it that's so heinous about this? Are you trying to say that not providing this service will somehow magically fix test scores? Or that busing special needs kids contribute to gang violence as you seem to be implying in the post before that?

    Seriously dude, I have NO idea what you're on about.

  • Albert F. Opitz Back in the 38th Ward

    I know that special nrrds kids can use bussing if their parents aren't able to drive them to school, however if you go by a grammar school in the morning, there is sure a lot of buses. I don't think they are all special needs.

  • Paul Informed

    Tracy - maybe his point is that a lot of kids that do not live in the neighborhood are bussed in from ghetto areas and tend to ruin the schools here for responsible families/kids?

    And that they drain resources, bring gang issues, over-crowding, etc for areas they do not pay taxes in/for.

  • Alderman Tim Cullerton 38th Ward 38th Ward Alderman

    Well, it has been a week since I put this question out there. I really did intend to reply to each and every post, but I never anticipated that there would be this much interest in this issue (120 posts so far). If I am not mistaken the school board will take an official vote on this on Tuesday, and I presume the proposed tax increase will pass.
    Personally, I would like to see the State contribute more to our public school system, but given the current economic situation, I don't think that will happen for some time to come, (if ever).
    There were alot of good points made - i.e. that renters help pay for schools through rent increases attributed to property tax increases. My problem still, is that Seniors and owners with limited or no income due to the lack of good jobs will be hit the hardest - they have no way of offsetting the increased tax on their home, even though they may not have any children in our school system. Should those who do have children in the system, and who have the means to pay, be asked to offset some of the cost? I don't know the answer to that - I'm just throwing it out for thought.
    And how can we really improve the quality of education in our public schools, setting aside the funding issues for a moment? What will it take to raise the percentage of students learning at an acceptable level? How can we address and correct the negative "outside" factors such as violence, poverty, gangs, unemployment, etc., that plague many of our communities across the city?
    To be sure, this is no small task, and it will take all of us pulling together to bring about a positive change. Raising taxes and paying them is the easy part - let's all really get involved in supporting our schools as Jill suggests. Will extending the school day and the school year help? It sounds good to me, but will the Mayor be able to work with the CTU to make this happen? What do our teachers out there think?
    Thanks for all the discussion - please, let's keep it going!!

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    Possibly, Paul, though given the inherent racism in that sort of thinking, I would prefer not to presume it of anyone. I'd rather think well of people until they prove it impossible to do so.

  • Paul Informed

    Tracy- there is nothing racist nor wrong in not admiring class envy or embracing the garbage of society.

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    As with any argument, Paul, the semantics are meaningful. You may choose to characterize it as not embracing class envy or the garbage of society. I, on the other hand, prefer to characterize it as attempting to address the inequities of education in different school districts. I understand where you're coming from and would prefer not to engage in a pointless round of I'm-not-a-racist-but... with you. Enjoy your side of the semantic aisle, may it allow you to sleep at night.

  • Paul Informed

    Tracy, you may be shocked to know of my ethnicity. The fact of the matter is I never brought race to this topic, just the ghetto mentality that is destroying our communities. Something that is not bound by color, creed, or religion.

    But as my inner-city upbringing would say, "it is what it is.." and the reality is that a lot of the problems in CPS stem from the broken mentality and ill placed priorities by not only those in positions of authority in CPS but by the families whose children attend.

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    Paul, I've been listening closely to the right for years now, and I assure you nothing shocks me. I also know that no opinion is solely bounded by any single factor, so that your ethnicity is meaningless in terms of this discussion as is mine.

    I don't deny that there is in every group, a percentage of people who are very probably unreachable. Many of them are in the news these days. I reject, however, any blanket assignment of blame or negative characteristics. You're right, it is what it is. Let's deal with the trouble-makers as trouble-makers, not as some monstrous mutation of the desire to give more advantages to children.

  • Inactive user

    Frankly, if schools are going to be successful the parents will bear a much higher cost in both money and time than non-parents will. I assume you are familiar with the Nettelhorst story, but if not this is an interesting take (

    Ultimately the issue (from my perspective) is that you either need a solid core of "Nettelhorst" parents to essentially "take over" a school, or you need to struggle to build that while your kid goes to the substandard school in the meantime. Very few of us are willing to abandon our kids to such a grand educational experiment. Also, it should be noted that part of the Nettelhorst revolution was pushing out a lot of kids and families.

    As for the seniors, all that has really been presented here is (a) anecdotes that may or may not reflect broad experiences, and (b) complaining about not wanting to pay taxes, as opposed to not being able to. I don't want to pay taxes either, but that is not the point. Also, to the extent wealthier people tend to buy more expensive houses they *do* pay higher property taxes. I think this is a big misdirection completed by long, angry posts.

  • Dear Tim Cullerton of the 38th ward, wow, claude Brizard makes 250.000 a yr and is eligible to make 37,500 in performance bonuses, plus paid his family another 30,000 to move from N.Y. plus gave him a free car and driver for sch business and now they're considering raising taxes on home owners!!!! Let's dig alittle deeper.... Chief Adminstrator Tim Cawley makes 215.000 a yr...Chief Comm. Officer makes 165.000 a yr Chief of Staff Andrea Saenz makes165.000 a yr...Chief Education officer Noemi Donoso makes 195.000 a yr and Mayor Emanuel endorsed these new salaries....But teachers were told that the deficit ridden system didn't have the money to cover a 4% raise for our teachers? This sound like a ponzi scheme to tax home owners to pay their salaries and the people will suffer, the teachers will suffer, and most of all, our kids will suffer cause our official are not putting them before there salaries...Raise taxes on home owners, heck naw. Remember, our deficit ridden system was caused by promises made behind closed doors.

  • Dear Alderman, It takes a village to raise a child. I don't have children, but I recognize children will be making decisions that directly affect me when I'm older. I'm willing for a tax increase if it means better schools. There is no free lunch. We all need to help out. Period.


    The Civic Federation. Not known for having bleeding hearts, but rational analysis.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    Bill - thanks very interesting and David - thanks for that article - had not seen that. I resisted posting similar stories and statistics about the remarkable correlation between parental involvement/beliefs about educ and children/school achievement. Closely tied and brings up a entirely different set of issues....

  • Inactive user

    Hello Alderman Tim,
    I am a homeowner here in the beautiful 38th Ward and I am willing to pay for increased property taxes if the money goes to improve the schools.I have friends who teach in here and in different parts of the country so I am acquainted with the lack of necessary funding for schools and how that directly impacts all of us. I do not have children ( I also received my education from the nuns so I cannot speak to attending public schools) but children are the future and must be given the opportunity to get the best education possible. I also realize it is not just the schools that play a vital role in this. Parents must be involved and invested in the process of raising a child. This includes being involved in the school,holding teachers,principals and administrators accountable for their part. A great investment that involves many including someone like me.
    I have had many discussions with people over this topic many times. You cannot have great services, great schools,roads etc. without paying for them.
    If people are not willing to invest in the education of a child, what are we willing to invest in?
    I am also of the age where I remember that people could get an "education", leave high school and find a job. A good paying job in any one of the factories,steel mills, can companies etc. That day is gone and children must be able to compete in a very different market and to do that they must be educated.
    ps. I do OBJECT if the money is spent on "consultants" to give (again) another useless and costly report on what is wrong with CPS.
    No consultants are needed-people know what needs to be done.

  • Inactive user

    David F...I fully agree with your last post, and thanks for sharing that article about Nettlehorst. Getting a committed group of parents in seems to be the essential. Bad part is when the administration in a school doesn't welcome the "help". When kids have the opportunity to see their parents affect positive change in their school, this is a good thing! Thanks!

  • I'm a homeowner who just barely managed to get a modification through our bank so that we could afford to stay. Raising our taxes kind of defeats the purpose of that and puts us closer to where we were before. We got our two kids through school years ago sometimes paying tuition for a private school so that they wouldn't have to go through what I did during the riots of 1968/69. Tax the people with the children in school....please. Online classes work for colleges so why not Grammar School and High School? Everyone who still works had to make some concessions. We are back down to one income and have been for a few years so we all have our hardships.

  • They can all go sell chocolate bars if they have to...I'm just sayin...

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    Some of the schools around here have the kids doing that! Man I hate seeing them out after dark and in all sorts of weather trying to raise money for their schools. There should be limits, you know?

  • You're absolutely right. YOU should be out there in the dark selling Chocolate Bars!

  • Tracey you're not crying about selling a few chocolate bars are you? You consider that suggestion disrespectful? YOU said you couldn't bear seeing the children selling them in the dark so why not roll up those sleeves and help out? It's like crying when you play baseball for God's sake!!! Tom Hanks would be mortified!!

  • I'm disappointed but not surprised that the School Board when ahead and voted for the property tax increase despite clear opposition from the public. Which leads one to to think that it's pointless expressing an opinion since it's a foregone conclusion. I'd like to know how such backdoor taxes can be blocked or overturned. Other outrageous examples of taxes and fees being piled on are from cell phone providers and the phone, gas & electric companies.

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    Portagepat -- Selling stuff for the school isn't a bad idea in theory but those kids shouldn't be going door-to-door unsupervised, and if that's what you had in mind, then I think you're pretty much in the dark about what sort of world we live in. Personally I think the parents should be out there with them.

    As for me, I have no intention of going out and selling anything. I'm 59 years old and never had kids. My stake in the educational system of the city of Chicago ended in 1969. Am I willing to pay a portion of my property taxes to support schools? Darn tootin' I am in spite of having no real income to speak of. (Check: Profile > Author = Chronic cashflow issues.) Sorry you think they should sell chocolate instead of asking us to help.

  • Alderman Tim Cullerton 38th Ward 38th Ward Alderman

    Mike Brennan,
    The only way to improve this (in my opinion) is to revert back to an elected school board rather than an appointed board as we have now. The same holds true for other taxing bodies like the Park District. We also need TIF reform to prevent the diversion of school and park tax dollars away from those agencies..

  • Inactive user

    Alderman, just to be fair, the city's budget is not in particularly better shape that the school board's. An elected board might face the same sort of pressures the City Council has for years. TIF reform and changing the way funds are distributed statewide are probably also required.

  • Tracey the chocolate bars were used as an example. Many suburban and private schools come up with fundraisers in order to help themselves. I'm 57 and honestly...I would rather sell 84 chocolate bars than have one more tax piled on me. Many times raffling off a nice electronic item right outside the school office can raise quite a bit of money. It's all in the will of parent and student volunteers (as well as the honesty of the volunteers ;). Alderman Cullerton I am ready willing and able to sell chocolate bars and I don't even have school age children anymore! What happened to America's "can do" attitude? All I every see is "talk talk talk boo hoo".

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    Good fine, they're examples and I support them for those who are willing, but please don't attempt to shame or ridicule people for not being willing to go along with your ideas.

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    And, by the way, my name is spelled T-R-A-C-Y. It's next to my photo.

  • Well I like Tracey better so why change it now? Why do you look at common sense suggestions and label them as ridicule toward you? I believe in "rolling up your sleeves" and jumping in" and I'm terribly sorry you took offense at that. When I see graffiti I call 311 then I paint my own garage door with a layer of primer first. I send pictures to the police. If I get the wrong letter and it's not far from my house I take it to the right address and leave it. Last of all (oh my GOD) if someone tapes an advertisement on my garage i peel it off and throw it away. I guess we all have our own outlook and I find looking for solutions very rewarding. Sorry Tracy, if I have offended you, but with the country in so much financial trouble this kind of thinking is going to become much more of a necessity. I will now fold up my soapbox and disappear into the night....

  • Inactive user

    To navigate away from the "Tracy and Pat" show....Alderman, how do we get to the position of actually being able to elect the school board?

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    1) You can like whatever you want to, the name is still Tracy.
    2) I also look for solutions and am pro-active in my community. Whether you recognize it or not, the way in which you express your ideas and opinions carries with it implications that those who don't agree with you are part of the problem. A moderation of tone would certainly help, but that is of course entirely your choice.
    3) I'm not offended, simply annoyed. Big difference.

    Richard, I would be thrilled to drop this particular thread, but I don't believe in letting the sort of I'm-sorry-you-don't-care-as-much-as-I-do passive aggression go by unchallenged. Pat's said her last piece and called it quits, and now I have done the same.

    I think your notion of an elected school board bears investigation. Unfortunately I fear the process would be just as politicized as the current method of appointments is now.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    Tracy - I worry about it being over politicized as well. So few people vote anyway (don't know exact statistics..I think I remember reading that it is 25% or lower of voting population in off presidential years)....who knows who or what would result.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    It strikes me it would be like a Judge section of time to really spend on investigating each candidate, have to rely on Sun-times to tell me to who to vote for, have my morning paper with me while voting....

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    Exactly, Missy. Low voter turnout, lack of familiarity with the candidates... there are problems with voting, though it's definitely a more democratic method. And if families didn't care enough to educate themselves about the school board candidates, they'd have only themselves to blame if it all went pear-shaped.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    Just showed up on my twitter feed. Another way to look at it....

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    It's an interesting point of view, and it does make sense. Either give us the right to make our own mistakes, or give up your right to take money out of our pockets.

  • Inactive user

    I think it would make more sense to have the City Council control the schools budget. That way you are already voting for someone you know. The school board should, perhaps, be a policy body etc. but let the aldermen be responsible for the budget.

    Just to reiterate though, the budgets under control of the City Council are not exactly in good shape, so the issue may not be insulation from voters.

  • Inactive user

    I think it would make more sense to have the City Council control the schools budget. That way you are already voting for someone you know. The school board should, perhaps, be a policy body etc. but let the aldermen be responsible for the budget.

    Just to reiterate though, the budgets under control of the City Council are not exactly in good shape, so the issue may not be insulation from voters.

  • Alderman,

    Any suggestions to make your idea a possibility from a poliitician's point of view? I mean it's very political to take that kind of power away and not sure Chicago politics is ready to shake things up that much or give that power up. Would be interested in having productive suggestions to make this happen. Do we approach it from the state level? or a city level?

    BTW, Missy's link about why non-elected officials should not be allowed to raise property taxes was interesting.

  • Alderman Tim Cullerton 38th Ward 38th Ward Alderman

    It would take legilation at the state level to change State Law to provide for an elected school board (not likely to happen in the near future). The electorate would have to demand that their State Represenatives and Senators introduce, support and pass such legislation.

  • Alderman Tim Cullerton 38th Ward 38th Ward Alderman

    (legislation) sorry for the typo

  • Tracy please...a sense of humor is not passive aggressive behavior. I apologized for spelling your name wrong but I just can't take back the idea that so many of us...including me...don't just work on problems by talking about them when we could be, yes, selling candy bars or whatever it takes to get something done. No one person can do so. I have voted in every election since I turned 18. Going to the polls counts it really does. If I'm unfamiliar with a candidate I just don't vote for them without any information to back it. An interesting start with the schools would be a listing of the public school teacher's salaries throughout the city and the correlation to the performance of the schools they're working at. I remember a couple of years ago the teachers in Arlington Heights were pushing for raises and some helpful soul posted salaries. A gym teacher was making $105,000.00 per year. Needless to say the salaries did not go up that year.

    Alderman Cullerton I apologize if it appears that I'm being mean to Tracy. I'm sure she's a fine constituent and a fine human being. My offer to sell 840 candy bars still stands and I would be more than willing to volunteer my time a couple of days a week to help out in your office OR to help with flyers when issues come up. I'm not perfect but I'm also not all talk. Is there any way to check on these salaries; I believe they're public record? Thanks for reading this and please let me know how I can help.


  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    It's over now, Pat. Let's move along.

  • Alderman Tim Cullerton 38th Ward 38th Ward Alderman

    There are arguments for and against giving the City Council control over the CPS budget. I, for one, would rather see an elected school board comprised of education professionals (teachers and administrators) develop the programs and staffing needs, (and select a school superintendent/CEO). Such a board could then be held directly accountable to the electorate for their success or failure. Such a board should also include the Mayor (or his or her designee) as an ex-officio member.

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    Education professionals would be the ideal, of course, but it's difficult to get educators to take the time to run campaigns, I think. But I'm inclined to think this is an excellent solution.

  • It's over? Let me read all of these and catch up on what the solutions are. Fantastic!

  • Inactive user

    Alderman, the idea of an elected board of educational professionals sounds great, but I fear it would end up more like the water reclamation district commissioners. I have no idea if those people are professionals. It doesn't seem like it.

    I think that education professionals should be appointed to the board to make policy etc., but the public finance professionals we already employ in the City Council should tell them how much money they have to play with. After all, schools are an integral part of our neighborhoods and maybe the aldermen need to have a little electoral skin in the game to really take a good look at the schools.

  • Inactive user

    PortagePat, I think purposely misspelling someone's name several times is inherently disrespectful. I also think that your talk about American "can do" attitude is oddly out of place from someone who is acting like $84 a year will wipe out the benefit of their mortgage refinance. It strikes me that you and your candy sale might be better served at home.

  • Jill Treehouse view of Jeff Park

    Turning the CPS into a political football for position driven groups to fight over year after year ignores the fundamental mission of education. We already have elected officials to run our schools! There is the Mayor, a CEO who puts the best team together for each department (CPS, CTA, CPD....) and holds them accountable. Elected Alderman provide budget, standards and hiring oversight. State Representatives and Senators set statewide standards and most importantly hold the purse strings. Hopefully our US Representatives and Senators are engaged in both policy and budget discussions.

    Providing a quality education for future generations requires top notch professional educators driving content, financial wizzards counting the pennies, unified vision and support from the elected officials who put the team together and most importantly an invested community that believe that we can and will have a world class school system in Chicago.

    I believe that we already have all of those pieces in play. The problem seems to be coming from the now politicaly important issues of where funding comes from and bickering between adults who just want things their way. Remove the grandstanding positions on both sides and stop using the schools as a political prize. Less elected officials in our schools, not more.

  • That's quite a persuasive point Jill.
    Rarely do individuals with the appropriate background in education and finance run for positions on elected school boards. Those with narrow social & political agendas do. We don't need THAT kind of divisiveness to add to the kind that we already have.

  • When the lotto first started 20-30yrs ago the politicos came out and said this is the salvation to our school problems.The lotto funds will bring the CPS up to par.This will save us.What happened to those funds?What happened to the salvation Mr. Cullerton?Where are those millions of dollars going Mr. Cullerton? How many CPS superintendents have we had in the last 15 yrs.They hang for 2-4 yrs then run for their lives.Why is that?Who is accountable for this $84.00 increase that I know will have to pay because you won't find a universal source to pay for it will you.Smoke and mirrors as usual.Maybe have a public forum like CPS likes.Maybe have a march like they do on the Southside when one of the CPS students gets shot.That works wonders.

  • Inactive user

    So Jill would that be a no?

    I say no, my child goes to a selective enrollment school. Because they have tested as the number one elementary school in the state for the last 17 years CPS rewards them by giving them nothing. The building is only 12 rooms, with no gym and no lunch room. Because we are not a neighborhood school the neighbors do not support us, the Alderman does not support us and we have school fees we pay out of pocket of $125 every year. I would rather give that money directly to my son's school. When children achieve and exceed state standards they are ignored by CPS. The school is falling apart, needs all new electrical and in desperate need of a addition. You only get money when you are failing. (please excuse the typos i am on my phone)

  • This will be the same as casinos for the city of Chicago.Casinos will get us out of this budgt crisis we have.It might work if this wasn't Chicago.In 15yrs another Mayor will say we need every one in Chicago to pay $400.00 for a city sticker and that will get us out of this budget crisisAnd bikes will pay $100.00 to tool around this burg.Everybody plays everybody pays.Who is one of the MAJOR investors the Rivers Casino.If you guess right you get a free play on a slot.This place will cure a lot of problems in Crook Co.See me in 10yrs.

  • Inactive user

    @ Bill selective enrollmemts (SE) are not for profit schools or supported by private entities. You are thinking Charter schools. SE schools are schools you have to test to get into. 3000 children tested for 30 spots in my child's class. SE schools get their funds from CPS just as a neighborhood school does.CPS awards funds based upon the number of free and reduced lunches eaten at the school. Not if your school is falling apart and you have to unplug everything to be able to turn on the overhead projevtorso you do not blow a fuse .... The type you screw in.

  • Jill Treehouse view of Jeff Park

    I admit this thread has long ago lost it focus, but I initally said I would grudgingly support a needed increase in my rent. Yes, my rent. Every piece of property (sans non profits and schools) pays property taxes. My rent will go up it the owner has a tax increase. My goods will be more expensive if businesses are hit with yet another tax. But to me personally, education is the great equalizer. An amazing institution that gives anyone and everyone an opportunity to be more and achieve more.

    My most recent post was regarding my strong opinion that elected school boards serve as a platform for single minded individuals who want to use the schools as a bargning chip. I do not believe in a bigger is better government. We do not need an additional layer of politics involved in what is already a mess.

    But I would like to learn more about the performance versus cost at the SE school mentioned. If the facilities are outdated and parents only pay $125 and yet the school is rated as one of our states best we should be sharing that information. Dedicated teachers and innovative curriculum can be inplemented in any school with any budget and should be available to all children.

    My humble opiniony is simplify the CPS and eliminated usless boards, committees, and consultants. This is not rocket science it is a battle of egos and agendas and it may work in Washington but it does not belong in the CPS. If a small school with no budget can achieve great goals every school should be able to soar!

  • Inactive user

    When I replied I thought this question had just been asked by the Alderman. On my phone I did not see the 170 responses before replying.

    The SE school my child attends does so well because the children are scoring 99.9% on the test given to get into the school. They are accelerated by 1 -2 grades. Their education is a classical one meaning focusing on Math, Read/Writing, Science and they study Latin. The lowest IQ to get in is 139 and up. So these kids are cherry picked, of course they are #1 in the state. They are the type of children who seek out information. So yes a small school of 265 children w/ an even smaller budget does succeed and exceed because the are they are skimmed off the top so to speak.

    The $125 school fee we pay every year goes toward the school buying supplies because CPS does not provide us enough money. On top of the fact that each child brings on the first day of school a ream of paper, a roll of paper towels, a box of Kleenex, a bottle of hand sanitizer because our school can not afford to buy any of that type of stuff. We must also provide the basics pencils, pens, folders, spirals etc. Mean while the Mayor hands out backpacks full of supplies to children in failing schools. But yet we have families struggling financially at our school too and out of work parents trying to make ends meet.

    I do not I want to pay more in taxes towards CPS when my child can not even have gym and has to eat at a desk every day as there is no lunchroom because CPS refuses to build on to our school. Yet they just built a new beautiful neighborhood 4 blocks away for a failing school. You can give them a shiny new building and they still will be a failing school. Just as we have a crappy building and exceed. It is not the building. It is the teachers, the parents who are invested in their children and the children's desire to learn. Children want to learn when what they say is respected. When people are willing to listen to them and are interested in them.

  • Inactive user

    I should also note that schools on the south side also have free summer camp programs, free after school care and after school programs. I pay $400 per month for my child to go to an after school program while I work and support my child as a sole parent. When the north west side is offered the same programs as the south I would be happy to pay the tax increase.

    Jill you should read:

    District 299

    CPS Obsessed

    Raise Your Hand

  • Inactive user

    wow, not sure I can read all of these comments at this point. But David F I would like to point out Nettlehorst is NOT a success story. Sure they made their building all shiny & pretty thanks to friends of Nettelhorst, however they are not really a good school academically. I would not send my child there. They also have the benefit of having parents who are Blackhawks as a fundraising arm of the school.

    You have to look at the meets and exceeds:

    and then look at where they fall in the bar graph.

    Then go look at Decatur Classical, Edison, Keller and Lenart. Also, Beaubien is not a Regional Gifted Program. It is a neighborhood school with an options program which you do have to test to get into. The only regional gifted programs in CPS are Edison, Keller and Lenart.

    Schools will not be successful without parents who are vested in them. Children will not do well in school unless someone believes in them and encourages them to succeed. The obvious bonus is if it is their parent. Having served on the PTA for years the sad reality is that in all schools you have 10% of the parents who do everything. The rest only show up at report card pick up when it is required (every other report card).

  • Jill Treehouse view of Jeff Park

    There are some things that it seems we all could agree upon, dedicated teachers, involved parents and a simplified CPS are needed to achieve succesful schools. Does it really have to become a hot potato for politial wannabees (sp) ?

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    Jaxx: From your own linK: Three Regional Gifted Centers are full-site centers (Edison, Keller, and Lenart), meaning that all students in these schools are in the Regional Gifted Center, and no student may enroll in the schools without participating in the application and selection process. Nine Regional Gifted Centers are housed in neighborhood schools (Beaubien, Bell, Carnegie, Coonley, Greeley, Orozco, Pritzker, Pulaski and South Loop), meaning that the school has two separate programs, a regular education program and the Regional Gifted Center program. One Regional Gifted Center is housed in a magnet school (Beasley) – in this case, the school has two separate programs, a magnet school and a Regional Gifted Center.

  • Inactive user

    So many good points here.

    Jaxx, Nettelhorst is not an unqualified success. It is not an elite performer, but it is apparently a much better school than it was. There is something to take from their story, but also cautionary elements.

  • Alderman Tim Cullerton 38th Ward 38th Ward Alderman

    The City Council has no budget or hiring oversight over CPS, CTA or CPD (PARKS). Their budgets and assessments are determined by appointed boards and commissions (Mayoral appointments). Take the tollway commissioners as another 87 percent increase with no real accountability to the electorate. I just think people should have the right to elect those who have the authority to levy taxes and fees from your income. I don't expect everyone to agree with me on this issue, it's really just my own opinion. But be clear on the issue of CPS oversight...the City Council has no say so over the school board's decisions or tax levys (maybe that's a good thing)! Thanks! : )

  • Inactive user

    Ald. Cullerton you may be right about that one. But you can designate funds that go to schools from your ward. Ald. Levar was a big on donating to schools and fund raising for them. You can also designate TIF funds to them correct? I know in Ald Pawar (sp) ward parents are up in arms because Lycee (sp) the french school is asking for TIF funds to build their new school when normally these funds should go to a neighborhood school.

    The problem with SE schools is that there is no Alderman to represent the school because these are not neighborhood schools (where as Bell, South Loop and Beaubien are neighborhood schools with gifted programs in them). The children who attend these schools come from wards all over the city. Then the neighborhoods resentment towards them because their children can not attend and it is across the street from their house or up the block. So in our case we only have our parent base to pull from for donations.

    @Missy I am all to familiar with the OAE process and the SE schools. Son attended Edison for Kindergarten. It was not thrilled with the school (at its old location not the new one), so he tested and was accepted at Decatur. Which is a much better fit for him. I have a friend and former classmate of my son's who is switching from Edison to Beaubien's options program this fall. They are very excited!

    @David Waters's is another school that is similar to Nettelhorst with lots of parent involvement that took a school from nothing to something pretty decent. Water's on

    Portage is overall pretty said score wise. But with 80% low income they are a pretty financially stable school. Low income brings in a lot of money.

  • Inactive user

    also just for conversation Disney II is doing some pretty amazing things considering they are only a few years old. This is a school with large parent involvement, but also a magnet school where children are accepted based upon the lottery system and are bussed in. This is definitely a school to watch! Anyone who lives with in the neighborhood boundaries can apply. I believe that is 1.5 miles from the school.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    Jaxx - daughter is now at Northside prep after 8 years at excellent Beaubian program...I think we all become experts on CPS after having gone thru it :).

  • Inactive user

    Congrats to your family! That is awesome! Northside is our goal as well. After Decatur I plan to try to send my son to Beaubien's options program for 7th and 8th. So that is good news! I wish we had more options for SE High Schools on the north west side. I do not count Lane Tech. I also would not send my child there for their new AC or is it an IB program for 7th and 8th. or Taft either.

  • Missy Old Irving Park resident held hostage by a mutt

    There were 8 kids from her graduating class that went on to Northside, which if I remember.correctly was more than normal years Kids at Northside come from all over, many different backgrounds and schools. Our friends have twins and 1 got in and 1 didn't this year (they were in catholic schools in elementary). It really comes down to test scores (my daughter took the prep class...which when you think about it is a ridiculous amount of pressure - 7th grade was a very stressful time!).

  • Inactive user

    especially for mom! LOL! (stressful time!)

  • Off topic, but wanted to chime in about schools. My oldest graduated from Hawthorne and Whitney Young. I have two at Inter-American Magnet school near Wrigleyville. I applied to nearby magnet schools with no luck and most neighborhood schools only offer half day kindergarten. Having gone through the OAE and SE process, I have done my homework. I wish northwest side parents had more public school options (not parochial - of which I am a product of) in the northwest area. Has anyone ever checked out the attendance boundaries for Taft? It has to be the largest area, the most feeder schools, etc. There has to be a way to add another hs in the area to help alleviate the overcrowding, while offering a college prep program.

    I may be opening a can of worms, but what a great opportunity we have to add some great amenities to our neighborhood - a park, elementary school and high school to the undeveloped area behind Wright College. A perfect example of a great use of space is Winnemac Park, Amundsen Hs, Chappell School and a football/soccer field near the corners of Foster and Damen. Take a drive down there one day.

    Seems like residents/voters get heard when they request/demand additional programs,etc in north center (Coonley gifted program), Roscoe Village (Lane AC center), south loop (Skinner School, new park can't think of name, etc) and the list goes on. How can we have a voice in what our community needs and to work collaboratively to come up with a plan to increase our kids options? especially with high school?


  • Rosemarie Life long NWsider, 17 year resident of Old Irving

    Jaxx, you should be very proud of your children's intelligence. It sounds like you have the good fortune of having bright children who appreciate their education.

    I am a bit disappointed that you "don't count" Lane Tech as a HS option. My son is beginning his sophomore year and we are very pleased with the school. To be perfectly honest, his first choice was not Lane, but in the end he is extremely happy with it and is doing very, very well. Yes, it may not have the bells and whistles that the newer SE schools have but as you stated, "It is not the building. It is the teachers, the parents who are invested in their children and the children's desire to learn. Children want to learn when what they say is respected. When people are willing to listen to them and are interested in them." That is the exact experience we are having at Lane.

  • Inactive user

    Lane would not be a good fit for my child. Itt has nothing to do with the old building. My 9 year old is doing algebra now and currently reading To Kill A Mocking Bird. He needs a school that offers independent learning options and advanced placememt classes.

  • Rosemarie Life long NWsider, 17 year resident of Old Irving

    A parent knows what is best for their child.

    This comment is for those who are still reading this thread and are unfamiliar with Lane: please know that Lane does offer Advance Placement classes.

  • Inactive user

    Also Lane is NOT the NW side. Families near or west of Austin have no CPS HS options. As well as no SE options at all.

  • Inactive user

    Rosemarie I was on my phone earlier and it is hard to reply and even harder to not make typos when replying.

    This discussion has gone from taxes to one about better school options. I do not support increasing my taxes until there are better school options for the NW side. OIP where you live is in the fringe of the expressway and relatively close to Roscoe Village, LP, Lakeview etc and the schools there. Hawthorne. IA , Blaine, Bell etc really aren't viable options for families living on the NW side (western portions of 38, 45 and 41). For someone living in Dunning, Oriole or Edison Park - Lane, Whitney, Payton, Northside Park, Hawthorne, LaSalle, Decatur, Edison are not options for their children as it puts them on a bus for over 2 hours each day to go to school. That is a minimum time commute. The NW side is a desert when it comes to classical, gifted or SE programs. I urge Alderman Cullerton to demand a new NW high school be built for ALL children and to include an excelerated program.

    As far as Lane goes, you need to realize that the mind of a child who is in the gifted IQ usually has social and emotional delays. The also learn differently than children who learn at the average pace. Which also requires teachers who know how to accommodate their needs. If my child is not properly challenged he is disruptive and bored. Yes, Lane has AP classes however Northside's AP classes comparatively are more advanced then Lane's. My neighbor's child switched last year from Lane to Northside because it was to easy for her. She was in AP classes and not challenged. Schools are not one size fits all. Lane is a fine school but socially my son would be eaten alive there, made fun or and not fit in. At Northside he would be just one of many quirky kids. I would also not send my child to Whitney for the same reasons. All else fails we will move to the suburbs to the Adali Stevenson district.

  • Inactive user

    Thank you Alderman Cullerton it was good of you to explain your positions yesterday at the fair to me. It's a hot button issue, but like the one lady I mentioned that was there, she made good comment of "If we can spend 100.00 bucks going to a game, can't we spend 80 on our children"? It was a strong point. And thanks for setting us straight on who Levy's taxes on us. It should be elected officials and should not be appointed ones. Take care.

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident

    Some of you might find this interesting and informative. It certainly addresses some of what goes on behind the scenes apropos of education and elected school boards. Please don't take this as a vote against elected school boards, just an informational video.

  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident
  • Tracy Rowan Author and life-long Chicago resident
Hello, neighbor. This thread was closed due to violations of the EveryBlock community guidelines, which intend to keep discussions informative, friendly and respectful.

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