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June 13, 2002

Governor Ryan Signs Bill to Help Financially Troubled School Districts
Gives New Funding Tool to Chicago Public Schools

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed House Bill 5734 that allows for the establishment of a finance authority to exercise control over a school district and giving the authority the necessary powers to bring financial stability to the district. The bill also gives the Chicago Public School District the ability to levy taxes for capital and life safety improvements, a funding mechanism similar to what all other school districts have now.

“This law will help the Round Lake School District remain solvent, preventing the state from taking on its debt and the surrounding school districts from having to absorb additional students if it were to dissolve,” Governor Ryan said. “It will also allow the Chicago Public School District to begin addressing a portion of their $2 billion in unmet capital needs.”

In 2000, the Illinois State Board of Education appointed a financial oversight panel for the Round Lake School District, which has had a long history of financial problems dating back to the early 1990’s. House Bill 5734 establishes a finance authority consisting of 5 members to be appointed by the State Superintendent of Schools, 2 of which must be residents of the Round Lake School District. The finance authority would have the power to appoint the district’s top management, negotiate collective bargaining agreements and to issue its own debt within specified limits.

Beginning in 2003, HB 5734 will allow the Chicago Public School District to levy a capital improvement tax to provide revenue for specified capital improvement purposes. The legislation provides that an initial tax levy must be approved by the Chicago City Council before it can be extended. If the Chicago City Council does not approve a resolution for a capital improvement tax levy within 60 days, the initial tax levy is denied.

House Bill 5734 was sponsored by Representatives Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, Mark Beaubien, R-Barrington Hills, Timothy Osmond, R-Antioch, and Calvin Giles, D-Chicago.

It was sponsored in the Senate by Senators William E. Peterson, R-Long Grove, Terry Link, D-Vernon Hills, Adeline Geo-Karis, R-Zion, and Barack Obama, D- Chicago.


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