CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - The head of Chicago’s Public Schools says he'll be heading to Springfield next week, hoping to convince lawmakers to change the school funding formula and avoid what he calls "incredibly harmful" cuts to education.
It was a rallying cry for about 200 parents, students and school leaders at the Douglas Park Cultural Center as they attempt to turn up the heat on lawmakers in Springfield.
"Our schools and schools across the state are suffering. We worry that CPS might not even open in the fall and that our best teachers will leave the district,” said CPS parent Patrice Hunter.
With less than two weeks left in the legislative session, the group is hoping for a political Hail Mary.
Advocates have complained for decades that Illinois school districts with large minority and low-income populations are getting fewer dollars returned from Springfield than those in more affluent areas.
But now with CPS nearly bankrupt and scrambling for a line of credit, CEO Forrest Claypool said next year's budget will have to be slashed 26-percent without a funding formula change.
"Every school district in the state that has low income children has their backs against the wall. We have to act now. The time has run out to kick the can down the road, to delay, because the consequences for our kids, our teachers, our principals throughout the state are going to be incredibly harmful,” Claypool said.
Parents signed petitions while others plan to board buses to take their demands directly to the state capitol.
"The government has put its thumb on the balance in the direction of the wealthier communities. And we're not asking to give us money. We're just asking them to take their thumb off the scale,” said CPS parent Lisa Kulisek.
Claypool says he will travel to Springfield next Thursday to meet lobby lawmakers in person, along with leaders of a dozen other districts around the state.
Insiders believe the only way the school funding formula changes is if it's part of a grand bargain between Governor Rauner and Democratic lawmakers, which for now is a long shot.