Senate approves Chicago Public Schools elected school board measure

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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) secured passage in the Senate of a measure allowing for the election of the Chicago Board of Education starting in 2023.

Before this legislation, the Chicago Public School district was the only school district in the state without an elected school board.

“It’s important that Chicago stay on par with the state, not only with funding but also with democracy,” Raoul said.

The measure passed today sets the size of the elected board at 15 members and establishes a redistricting commission to draw districts for board members.

“We amended the legislation to make sure the legislature was not drawing districts but that redistricting was done by people within the city of Chicago,” Raoul said.

aquino martinez“Finally, CPS will join every other school district in Illinois in electing a school board,” Senator Omar Aquino of Chicago said. “Chicago taxpayers deserve more accountability from CPS leadership, which is more accountable to the mayor than the voters under an appointed school board. Over half of our property tax revenue goes to fund  CPS. If you pay taxes to support the schools and you trust them to educate your children, you should absolutely have a voice in deciding who runs them.”

CPS is currently the only school district in the state with an appointed school board. The legislation would create a body of 15 elected school board members elected from across Chicago to replace the city’s current board of seven members appointed by the mayor. The first board members would be chosen by voters in the 2023 Chicago municipal election.

Aquino hopes that elected school board members will better reflect the demographics of Chicago’s public schools.

“Latinos are the largest demographic in CPS at about 45 percent of the student body, but only two board members are Latino. By giving every neighborhood a voice in the process, we are taking an important step toward equitable representation,” Aquino said.

Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) released the following statement on the Senate passing legislation creating an elected Chicago school board:

The people on the Chicago Board of Education make decisions about the education of our children, decisions that can impact the rest of their lives. Surely their parents ought to have a say in who represents their children’s interests on that board. I am proud that we took action to ensure the Chicago school board answers to parents, not the mayor.

State Senator John G. Mulroe supported a measure to return local control to community members by establishing an elected school board in Chicago. Chicago is the only city in Illinois without an elected school board.

“I cosponsored this bill because I strongly believe that school boards should be representative of the communities they serve,” Mulroe said. “This legislation will ensure that parents, concerned citizens and community activists have a chance to run for school board and influence the direction of CPS.”

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said one of the major breakthroughs was getting the General Assembly's approval of a complete overhaul of how the state funds public schools. The more than two-decade old system increasingly fails students in Chicago and getting a better system that provided needed resources was top priority. Once that was approved, the elected school board proposal sailed through the Senate. It passed 53-2, and the two "no" votes came from Republicans.