Calls needed on police in CPS schools, air quality & funding equity

The General Assembly's Spring Session scheduled end date is May 24th. While that deadline may get extended as the budget gets hammered out, there are a lot of non-budget bills that are poised to keep moving in each chamber. Here are status updates on a few that we've been telling you about this session and actions for you to take.

👉 Calls needed to the House

HB 5008 - LSCs contracting for SROs: Ask your state rep to OPPOSE this problematic bill that would add contracting with Chicago Police Department for school resource officers (SROs) to the list of duties of Chicago's local school councils. It has not yet been called for a vote on the House floor, and more calls are very useful.

On top of the fact that there is overwhelming evidence that police officers do not improve school safety, this bill has other significant shortcomings as well, including the fact that it would newly allow elementary schools to have SROs and would massively expand contracting powers for local school councils with no oversight or regulation. In addition, as written it would undermine the Consent Decree put in place to reform the Chicago Police Department. The committee hearing for this bill discussed none of these issues and only had testimony from one proponent.

👉 Calls needed to the Senate

HB 3713- Clean Air for Healthy Equitable Schools: Ask your state senator to sign on as a SPONSOR of HB 3713 (or thank them if they are already a sponsor!) and to advocate for a hearing for this bill. It includes measures to improve air quality in schools, an issue that the pandemic brought to the forefront but which needed to be addressed long before. The provisions of the bill, including inspections of schools' HVAC systems and supplying air quality monitors and cleaners, are subject to appropriation, but federal grants are available to fund some of them. See this fact sheet for more detail. HB 3713 passed in the House last spring, and now needs a committee hearing and a floor vote in the Senate.

HB 303 - Moratorium on changes to CPS schools with selective admissions: Ask your state senator to OPPOSE HB 303.  It's already passed in the House and in committee in the Senate; a floor vote in the Senate is its next step.

Although this bill extends the moratorium on school closures until the fully elected school board for CPS is seated in January 2027—a good thing—its provisions related to selective admissions schools would hurt reforms that the current Chicago Board of Ed has been making to support equitable funding in the district. More background on this bill is here, and our detailed fact sheet on HB 303 is here. Yesterday WBEZ reported on a new poll showing a majority of Chicagoans, both parents and non-parents, would prioritize resources for neighborhood schools over a system that prioritizes school choice.

In any case, there are more than 1 million students in Illinois in districts that are underfunded by more than $3,000 per pupil in state funding. If the General Assembly is concerned about funding shortfalls for public schools, they shouldn’t be writing convoluted bills like HB 303 to assist somewhat-better-resourced schools in CPS to hoard opportunity. They should be passing progressive revenue solutions and ensuring that they fully fund the State's evidence-based funding formula for all Illinois’ public schools.

Thanks for your advocacy, and let us know if you have questions, comments, ideas: [email protected]