A ‘Coding Error’ Resulted In Chicago Public Schools Receiving $87 Million In State Monies That Should Have Gone To Other Districts

A “coding error” resulted in Illinois owing $87.5 million to hundreds of school districts, who will then seek repayment from Chicago Public Schools, which received the monies in error.

Approval of the $46.5 billion allocation was approved on Saturday by the House and Senate. During the first deployment of a new state school financing system, a contractor committed a “coding error,” according to the Illinois State Board of Education.

There are 14 school districts owing $1 million to $5 million and 565 districts owed up to $100,000, according to the International Board of School Evaluators (IBSE). Over the previous four years, 762 school districts received less money than they were entitled to.

A $87 million miscalculation by the state is still being recovered from CPS, the state’s biggest school system. According to the ISBE, 52 additional school districts were overpaid a total of $3,396, and it intends to reclaim cash from those who got at least $10 more than they should have.

State Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala said in a letter on Wednesday that the miscalculation “represents less than half a percentage point of the total funding that has been allocated statewide” under Illinois’ financing formula during that period. There will be a letter from ISBE sent to all impacted organizations shortly informing them of the amount they owe the state.

“In communication with CPS about an extended repayment period, so that classrooms are not impacted,” Ayala said in her letter to ISBE. For the 2018 school year, CPS is still working on its entire budget, which was $9.3 billion in 2017.

According to a statement released by a CPS spokesman on Friday, the district is trying to “discuss the impacts on CPS and the state budget with ISBE and the General Assembly.”

In districts with more than one state-authorized charter school, ISBE spokeswoman Jackie Matthews said the coding mistake exaggerated the enrollment of pupils attending state-authorized charter schools. Only the CPS enrollment data was effected by the error, since ISBE reports that no other districts have multiple state-authorized charter schools. For years, the state’s formula took into consideration previous year’s computations, resulting in the difficulty.

About 58,000 kids from the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) attend one of over 100 charter schools. A total of 330,000 kids are enrolled in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

While preparing a report for a group set up to assess the execution of the state funding formula, which was signed into law by former Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2017, ISBE discovered the mismatch, according to Matthews.

An external examination of the formula, which is designed to give precedence to areas with low property wealth, was launched by ISBE, according to Ayala, who claimed that “new measures” had been put in place to assure accuracy going forward.

An Illinois House Executive Committee hearing on Wednesday highlighted the issue of a formula mistake.

A Chicago Democrat and budget negotiator, House Majority Leader Greg Harris remarked, “I heard about it one day last week and was like ‘What the heck is this?’”

Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, wanted to know how CPS would repay the money and how the miscalculation would affect the funding formula in the future..

This is a difficult subject with a lot of intricate answers that we’re going to have to go through to get to the bottom of,” Harris added.

An education appropriations committee was proposed by Bourne.

In her words, “I think this has major implications that warrant a longer discussion, and I know this probably isn’t the appropriate venue, but I think this could be a big issue — now and down the road.”

Harris pointed out that the error was made under Rauner’s watch during the House debate on the budget early Saturday.

We would not have ended up in this situation today if the Rauner administration hadn’t made this mistake, he added.

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