Action Alert: Ask your rep to OPPOSE CPS anti-equity budgeting bill, HB 303

[Update: HB 303 Amendment 1 passed in committee 11-0 on Tue 4/16, and another amendment was filed Tuesday pm. See below for details. HB 303 could have a floor vote in the House before the end of the week. Please ask your state rep to OPPOSE HB 303.] 

An updated fact sheet for HB 303 is here. Note, as of Tuesday evening, April 16th, an additional amendment has been filed on HB 303 which would extend the existing moratorium on school actions (closings, turnarounds, mergers) in CPS for all schools through January 2027. 

However, the remainder of the bill, barring disproportionate budget decreases and changes to admissions requirements, is unchanged. Extension of the school action moratorium may make sense given the flux the district is in, but this doesn't fix the fundamental problems with the bill that it is intended to protect 1) a very small number of well-resourced schools and 2) doesn't define those in any way that makes the law interpretable if it were to pass. 

Please ask your state rep to vote NO on HB 303 if it comes to the House floor.

HB 303 was previously HB 5766. We have background on the issues with HB 5766 here, including our fact sheet. And an updated fact sheet for HB 303 here.

The latest version of this bill (=HB 303) changes slightly the description of what schools the bill applies to and the restrictions on budgeting changes.

Unfortunately, those changes aren't really improvements. In the HB303 version, this bracketed phrase (also in bold) was added to description of schools affected in each of the 3 paragraphs: “any attendance center within the school district that has selective admission requirements [that apply to the entire student body] and that are approved by the board.” 

HB 5766 original:


HB 303 HFA 1: 


But this doesn't make it clearer which schools the bill should apply to. For example, Taft, Morgan Park, and Kenwood high schools also have Academic Centers with restrictive admissions requirements, but there are a variety of admissions requirements for the remainder of the school. Would HB303 apply to these? Presumably not, but then the other ACs at Lindblom, Whitney Young, Lane and Brooks would still be covered under this bill.

What about Lenart Elementary--it has a regional gifted center, and grades K-8 require a certain test score for admissions. But grades 5-8 also require a certain GPA. And PreK has standard preschool admissions. Would HB303 apply to Lenart?

What about Jones College Prep? The same admissions requirements don't apply to the entire school because it also has two Career and Technical Education programs with attendance boundary advantage & special ed cluster programs. Walter Payton HS also has two SPED programs with different requirements for admission than its selective enrollment seats.

This makes us wonder whether the people drafting HB 5766 and this amendment to HB303 have any detailed domain knowledge of the complexity of CPS admissions! It's likely that no attendance center in CPS has a uniform admissions policy that applies to every member of the student body.

The other change between the HB 5766 original and tHB 303 is in paragraph (c); it now adds that a decrease can’t be “disproportionate” compared with “other attendance centers of comparable size.”

HB 5766 original:

Screenshot_2024-04-16_at_8.50.27 AM.png

HB 303 HFA 1:

Screenshot_2024-04-16_at_8.49.57 AM.png

However, this rewording still doesn’t take into account that there could be decreases or increases in funding at schools due to drops or increases in enrollment or changes in ELL or SPED composition that are entirely independent of choices that the Board of Ed is making about how to budget. Under HB 303, the Chicago Board of Ed wouldn't be able to modify budgets to take those facts into account if it meant "disproportionate" decreases for a selective school vs. a non-selective school (if we could even define what those categories were!)

And because the BoE is switching to a budgeting model which funds positions versus providing schools with a lump sum per pupil, schools budgets may vary because of particular staff members leaving or being hired. Experienced staff are more expensive, and this bill doesn’t allow for that type of variation.

If the IL General Assembly is concerned about new policies for facilities and budgeting, it should have held some subject matter hearings months ago, not rushed through poorly drafted legislation like this. Please call your state rep and senator and ask them to oppose HB 303.