Protesters to Rahm Emanuel: Use TIF funds to avoid CPS budget cuts
by MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporter August 18, 2013 9:08PM
Meeting at the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd ward) speaks. . | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times
Updated: September 20, 2013 6:35AM
That money is ours. You can’t spend it however you’d like. Give it back.
Protesters who gathered Sunday in Logan Square wanted to convey that message to Mayor Rahm Emanuel about surplus funds collected through Tax Increment Finance districts. They said TIF funds should be used to replace money cut from the Chicago Public Schools budget.
Recent cuts to classroom funding total $68 million, according to CPS. But Raise Your Hand, a parent group, claim cuts are closer to $168 million.
“There’s only one way to change this city,” said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd). “You either get a new mayor or you get a new group of aldermen who are going to follow the wishes of the people.”
More than 100 parents, teachers and members of the community who gathered near Kedzie and Logan were encouraged to call the mayor’s office to demand that he declare a TIF surplus and dedicate the money to schools. Time is of the essence, they say, because school starts Aug. 26.
“We need to look at the TIF program in general,” said Phillip Cantor, a teacher at North-Grand High School, who also has three kids who attend CPS schools. “There is something really wrong with a system that sucks our property tax money away from schools and parks and libraries and funds things like DePaul’s basketball stadium.”
“These cuts are devastating our students’ morale,” said Alonso Zaragoza, 33, a community representative on the Local School Council at Kelvyn Park High in Logan Square.
“We need our TIF funding restored,” said Zaragoza, who note that Kelvyn Park recently lost $3.1 million in funding.
Many CPS budget cuts were made to arts and music programs, according to the Chicago Teachers Union.
Zaragoza said cuts are affecting “programs our students require in order to want to come to school.”
Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) also spoke to the crowd and called for an elected school board, not one appointed by the mayor.