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October , 2017
Thursday

CHICAGO, IL – The following is a joint statement from the Illinois Department of Public ...
New York, NY (BlackNews.com) -- The Black Expo East presents its second annual ...
The 11th annual CineYouth Festival, presented by Cinema/Chicago and ...
Honorees were Gospel Music Legends Edwin Hawkins and Hezekiah Walker, Philanthropist and Kennedy Center Trustee ...
Opening ReMARCs By Marc Morial President & CEO, National Urban League Making Change Work for Us   President Obama's ...
Ongoing Initiative Recovers $100 Million, 50 Charged Statewide for Unpaid Sales Tax Fraud CHICAGO, IL – ...
Were you an alumni of DuSable High School between 1956-1960? The DuSable Class of 1960 ...
Calls for comprehensive plan of action By Chinta Strausberg Upset about the more than 90 ...
RLJ Entertainment and Urban Movie Channel Present Blackbird Available on VOD and Digital July 28 Coming ...
Money Raised From the License Plates to Support Public Schools Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White ...

Archive for March 14th, 2014

President Obama meets with Congressional Hispanic Caucus Leadership over “Commonsense” Immigration Reform Legislation

Posted by Admin On March - 14 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

President Barack Obama met with Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Ruben Hinojosa, CHC Immigration Task Force Chair Luis Gutierrez, and Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus Xavier Becerra in the Oval Office over immigration reform.

The discussion focused on their mutual efforts to pass commonsense immigration reform legislation through the House of Representatives this year.  The President emphasized his deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from “our broken immigration system.”

Obama told the members that he has asked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to do an inventory of the Department’s current practices to see how it can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law.  The President thanked the Members of the CHC for their work on these challenging issues, and expressed his strong desire to work together to put pressure on Congressional Republicans to pass bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible.

Kirk to Kerry: Stop Subsidizing Iran-Sponsored Terrorism

Posted by Admin On March - 14 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) questioned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the billions of dollars Iran has received under the P5+1 interim nuclear agreement and whether Iran is using those funds to subsidize terrorist groups like Hezbollah.

“The administration should not be subsidizing Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, including more than $100 million a year in payments to a terrorist group responsible for the murders of more than 280 Americans,” Senator Kirk said. “Secretary Kerry believes we should put aside Iran’s support for terrorism during nuclear negotiations – likely because he knows the American people do not support his current policy of subsidizing Iranian terrorism.”

According to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Iran had an estimated $20 billion in accessible reserves prior to the November Joint Plan of Action agreement.  Based on cash transfers made under the agreement and oil export profits estimated by United Against a Nuclear Iran, Iran’s accessible reserves have increased by at least $5.55 billion, including an estimated $4 billion in oil revenue and an additional $1.55 billion in cash transfers under the agreement.

Hezbollah, an Iranian terror proxy designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, is responsible for the murders of at least 280 Americans. To watch Senator Kirk’s questioning of Secretary Kerry at today’s hearing, please click here.

Hezbollah has claimed the lives of more than 280 Americans:

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Madigan, IDES Crack Down On Unemployment Fraud

Posted by Admin On March - 14 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Attorney General charges nine for illegally collecting more than $200,000 in Unemployment Benefits


CHICAGO, IL — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced charges against nine defendants, alleging they defrauded the state when they fraudulently collected more than $200,000 in unemployment benefits, including one defendant who was incarcerated at the time he received the benefits.

The sweep was the result of investigations by IDES and the Attorney General’s office that revealed the defendants were fraudulently certifying they were unemployed in order to collect weekly benefits.

“These defendants received unemployment benefits while they were simultaneously collecting a paycheck,” Madigan said. “Prosecuting these cases deters fraud and maintains the resources of the unemployment insurance program to help those people it is intended assist—the unemployed.”

“Fighting waste, fraud and abuse are not empty words. Doing so is critical to protecting taxpayer money and rebuilding our economy,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said. “The vast majority of our workers follow the rules and must not be by muddied by the few who choose to cheat. The people most hurt by this selfishness are our neighbors who honestly are looking for work and the employers who respect their workers and treat them fairly.”

In less than three years, IDES’ primary anti-fraud measures have saved taxpayers nearly $400 million. The amount reflects tax refunds seized from those knowingly defrauding IDES as well as payments frozen because fraud was suspected and then confirmed.

Madigan’s office charged each of the nine defendants with theft, a Class 1 felony punishable by four to 15 years in prison, and state benefits fraud and wire fraud, Class 3 felonies punishable by two to five years in prison, against nine defendants.

In each case, the defendant falsely verified they were unemployed through the IDES telephone or on-line verification system to access taxpayer-funded assistance during their supposed unemployment. Investigations by IDES and Madigan’s office revealed the defendants were, in fact, employed or incarcerated and should not have received benefits or the level of benefits they claimed.

Fraudulent claims made by the defendants spanned from 2009 through 2012. Prosecutors charged six defendants in Cook County, alleging:

  • Leon Allen, 56, of Chicago, collected more than $33,000 in fraudulent benefits;
  • David Bailey, 47, of Chicago, collected more than $30,000 in fraudulent benefits;
  • Stephanie Burrage, 46, of Chicago, collected more than $24,000 in fraudulent benefits;
  • Sonya Franklin, 30, of Chicago, collected more than $22,000 in fraudulent benefits;
  • Lawrence Howard, 34, who was incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center at the time he collected more than $17,000 in fraudulent benefits; his accomplice in the matter, Georgina Jackson, 30, of Chicago, has also been charged; and
  • Marvin Ross, 29, of Chicago, collected more than $22,000 in fraudulent benefits.

Kane, McHenry, Winnebago Charges:

  • Edward Sitko, 43, of Wonder Lake, charged in McHenry County with collecting more than $20,000 in fraudulent benefits;
  • Margaret Smith, 49, of Rockford, charged in Winnebago County with collecting more than $18,000 in fraudulent benefits; and
  • Moira Wolf, 50, of South Elgin, charged in Kane County with collecting more than $20,000 in fraudulent benefits.

Assistant Attorneys General Jill Kolinski and John Walz are handling the cases for Madigan’s Special Prosecutions Bureau.

CBC Chair Marcia L. Fudge and Rep. Gwen Moore Send Letter to Rep. Paul Ryan on Poverty Comments, Invite Rep. Ryan to Discuss Strategies to End Poverty with the CBC

Posted by Admin On March - 14 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, DC –Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) and Rep. Gwen Moore (WI-04) sent the following letter to Rep. Paul Ryan regarding his comments on the Bill Bennett Morning in America show where he referred to a “tailspin of culture” in inner cities “not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work”. The full text of the letter is below and is available for download here.

Prosecutors Secure 90-Year Sentence in 2008 Sexual Assault Case

Posted by Admin On March - 14 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

A Chicago man believed to be a serial rapist and murderer who preyed upon women in violent sexual attacks on the South Side has been sentenced to 90 years in prison in the first of multiple cases against him, according to the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Michael Johnson, 28, was sentenced after having been previously convicted of two counts of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault and one count of Aggravated Battery/Great Bodily Harm in connection with a sexual assault that occurred on Aug. 17, 2008. Johnson is also charged with the murder and sexual assault of four other women who were slain in attacks by Johnson between 2008 and 2010. He is also facing attempted murder and sexual assault charges in connection with a fifth case in which the victim survived.

According to prosecutors, in the August 2008 case, Johnson met the victim near a gas station in the area of 111th and State Street and the victim agreed to have sex with Johnson for money at his residence. After the two engaged in sex, the defendant requested an additional sex act, which the victim refused. As the victim was getting dressed to leave Johnson’s residence, prosecutors said Johnson grabbed her and began to choke her until she lost consciousness. As the victim drifted in and out of consciousness, Johnson continued to choke and beat her before sexually assaulting her. Afterwards, Johnson threw the victim off a second story balcony and then dragged the naked victim through a vacant lot and left her in the alleyway causing second degree friction burns on her back.

According to prosecutors, the victim was taken to a nearby hospital where a rape kit was collected. The victim was subsequently transferred to another hospital to be treated for her critical injuries. Johnson was arrested in 2010 after a computerized law enforcement data base search of his DNA identified him as the attacker in this case and linked him to the other attacks.

Cook County Judge Joseph Kazmierski sentenced Johnson today to 40 years for each Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault charge and 10 years for the Aggravated Battery/Great Bodily Harm charge. All charges are to run consecutively, for a total of sentence of 90 years. The remaining cases against Johnson are pending.

State’s Attorney Alvarez thanked Assistant State’s Attorneys Mercedes Luque-Rosales and Mikki Miller and the Chicago Police Department for their work on this case.

Former Ald. Robert Shaw Vows to Defeat Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Posted by Admin On March - 14 - 2014 1 COMMENT

Pledges to fairly slice city’s contractual pie

By Chinta Strausberg

Shaw runs for Mayor

Leapfrogging over the customary exploratory committee stage of his campaign, former Ninth Ward alderman and Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Robert Shaw Thursday announced his mayoral candidacy vowing to reform the controversial Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program, the public schools including an elected school board and contract letting on a more equitable basis.

Shaw, 77, held his press conference at the South Loop Hotel, at 26th and State Street, which is owned by a group of African American businessmen. Flanked by a multi-racial group of supporters, Shaw said, “Some of us are very displeased with what is happening in the city” which was the stimulus for him to move back into Chicago’s Hyde Park/Kenwood community last December from South Holland.

Shaw believes he is the best mayoral candidate having an 89 percent name recognition in Chicago, and he said any other black including rumors that Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle may run who throws his or her hat in the ring will be dividing the black vote because he is the first African American to officially announce. Shaw said he can’t tell Preckwinkle what to do.

When reminded about Mayor Emanuel’s more than $6 million political war chest that could grow because of his brother’s Hollywood connections, Shaw referred to the 1983 and 1987 mayoral elections where then Congress Harold Washington won with far less than the double digit millions his opponents had and was reelected again in 1987. Shaw said he is running a “peoples’ campaign” and will not worry about those with large campaign funds he says are for those seeking name recognition.

Admitting his bid for mayor “is not easy,” Shaw accused Mayor Rahm Emanuel of “disrespecting the community by closing schools…setting up red lights…setting up speed traps, nickel and diming people to death.” Shaw said that is not his idea of how to run a city.

Rather he said, “The city should be run fairly and the people of Chicago should have some say in terms of how this city is run. Instead of that, he says this is my city and I’m going to do it like I want to do it not withstanding how you feel about it and that is the problem…,” he said.

He pointed to the mayor closing 54 Chicago public schools calling that “outrageous.” “Sending the children across various (gang) lines is unconscionable….” He pointed to the pension problem that may affect retiring teachers. Shaw called the city’s TIFprogram the mayor’s “personal fund where he dips into it and do what he wants to do with it…like building a stadium over by the McCormick Place when the pension could use those funds….” Shaw is not pleased with CPS/CEO Dr. Barbara Byrd Bennett because of the school closures.

“This mayor has set up lights and speed traps along these schools and parks. If he is really concerned about the safety of Chicago and the school children, he would put these speed humps by the schools…. It’s a matter of nickel and diming the people of Chicago,”charged Shaw.

The former alderman pointed to the parking meters contract saying, “this deal stinks to high heaven and everybody knows it.” An alderman for 20-years and a county commissioner, Shaw said, “There was a sweetheart deal made with these parking meters. You can get out of this deal anytime you want.”

Saying he has spoken to several lawyers, who tell him the contract can be changed. If we do a bond issue for McCormick Place for a stadium over there, we can do a bond issue and pay these people back and pay the debt service on the bond issue with the money we get from the meters, but that is not what this guy is trying to do. It is unfortunate that he can hoodwink the people of Chicago into believing that he’s for them when he’s really not,” said Shaw.

According to Shaw, the parking meter fees “have gone up about 300 percent. You use to go by the lake and park and enjoy yourself, but that is not what is helping today.” He said today people might face getting a ticket and have to feed the meters. “So, where is the recreation part of Chicago? It’s an unfortunate situation we are in.”

Shaw said the City Council gave the mayor control of $1.9 billion in new bonds. “They don’t have any say so over how the money is spent. How are you going to do that…to give this guy a blank check…? We’re going to change that.”

One of his supporters, attorney Robert K. Gorman, whose wife is a judge and is related to Cook County Comm. Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman, handed out the city of Chicago real estate tax rates for Neighborhood 72003 located on the south side of Chicago showing that real estate property taxes have allegedly gone up by 33.6 percent since 2010 in Chicago. When the mayor claims he’s trying to lower the taxes, Shaw says, “That’s a bunch of malarkey. We want to give people real tax relief.”

When he was a commissioner for the Cook County Board of Review, Shaw said he lowered taxes for more than 400,000 people. “That is what people need…,” he said.

Shaw accused the mayor of allegedly doubling the water rates. “How are people going to pay? People have to take a bath, but at this rate at the rate he’s going in another three-years you can’t take no bath with this guy. You can go and jump in the lake but that’s about all you can do and that is unfortunate….”

“I will be asking at the people of Chicago to take a serious look at our campaign and our financing and elect a new mayor,” Shaw said. “We intend to put together a coalition of people, backs, Hispanics and whites to make this candidacy work for the people of Chicago….”

Asked about the closing of the schools, Shaw said, “They could have used $1.7 billion in the TIF funds….They could have used part of that money…. We’re going to look at that TIF money for both schools and pension. If they can go over here and get $30 million to(build) a stadium by McCormick Place and go out south, 89th Street, and build a new school for $60 million out of TIF money…, that is a terrible waste of money.” He said the mayor could have used one of the shuttered schools rather than build a new one.

“There is only 9 percent white (students) in Chicago, but…that is where they closed all the schools in the black and Hispanic communities and this should not be. Fairness should be the order of the day rather than picking on one community or another.”

When a reporter reminded him of how some people think about the Shaw brothers (Shaw’s late twin brother, Senator William Shaw) and their “politricks,” Shaw said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I know we’ve been elected to public office for more than 30-years. You can call it what you want to call it, but in February of 2015 we expect to hold up the victory flag.”

“The people of Chicago know me,” Shaw said referring to his 89 percent name recognition rate.

The mayor’s office is not commenting on Shaw’s announcement.


Photo by Chinta Strausberg


Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.

ReMARCs: Who’s The Real George Wallace?

Posted by Admin On March - 14 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
Opening ReMARCs

By Marc Morial

President & CEO, National Urban League

Last week, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal made some rather offensive remarks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), saying, “We’ve got Eric Holder and the Department of Justice trying to stand in the schoolhouse door to prevent minority kids, low-income kids, kids who haven’t had access to a great education, the chance to go to better schools.”

Sure, politicians sometimes reach for sensationalism during political gatherings – and it’s usually the more shocking comments that are covered and remembered.  But at some point, respect for our nation’s history – understanding the gravity of that moment – must overrule the desire for dramatic effect.

This comparison of Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. DOJ to segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace, who stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama to prevent two Black students from integrating the school, was over-the-top and has no place in a productive national discourse.  The issues at hand are the legal dispute between the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Gov. Jindal over Louisiana’s school voucher program, which the DOJ questioned was a violation of prior desegregation orders, and Jindal’s disagreement with the Obama administration’s lack of support for voucher systems using public money to fund private schools.  The subject matter is substantive enough for meaningful and earnest discussion and debate.  It is unfortunate that the governor chose a politicized platform to spew inaccurate historical comparisons.

Gov. Jindal’s comments were also quite ironic – if not hypocritical – considering that many would suggest that he is the Wallace-like figure “standing in the hospital door” with his refusal to expand Medicaid in a state with one of the highest rates of uninsured and some of the nation’s worst healthcare outcomes as a result of nonexistent or poor access to quality care.

I’ve met the governor, and he seems like a nice man with an inoffensive personality, but his statements and his positions are offensive.  He undoubtedly needs a history lesson.  Let’s start with this one: Gov. Wallace eventually apologized for his “stand.”  Perhaps Gov. Jindal will soon do the same.

Goodman Theatre Announces its 90th “Season To Celebrate,” a Mix of New and Contemporary Plays

Posted by Admin On March - 14 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

2014/2015 Season starts in September with a three-month new play festival on both stages; three premieres by acclaimed female playwrights; a citywide exploration of the impact of August Wilson; co-productions with the Second City and Albany Park Theater Project; and The Iceman Cometh At BAM


Subscriptions, starting at $90 in honor of the Milestone Season, are now on sale


CHICAGO, IL – Chicago’s most established resident theater presents a 90th anniversary “season to celebrate,” a line-up of new and contemporary works on its two stages—the 856-seat Albert Theatre and 400-seat flexible Owen Theatre. Today, Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer announced six plays (of eight)—half of which were developed by commission and/or workshop in the Goodman’s new play development programs—that comprise the 2014/2015 Season, plus co-productions with Chicago’s off-Loop theaters. Remarked Falls, “We are proud to present this Season in the same spirit that launched the Goodman in 1925: ‘an array of dramatic fare, from classics to noteworthy contemporary works, innovative and oft controversial, embracing genres from farces to searing social dramas.’ We hope to give our audiences compelling, relevant experiences from a range of culturally and aesthetically diverse artists, from bold new talents to acclaimed local and national voices.” For a limited time, Subscriptions start at $90 in honor of the milestone season; call 312.443.3800 or visit GoodmanTheatre.org. Individual tickets go on sale in August. Two Albert plays are TBA.

The milestone season begins with an unprecedented three-month celebration of plays in every stage of development in an expanded New Stages festival that includes two mainstage subscription offerings, three workshop productions, staged readings and special events (September through November 2014). The Albert season opens with the return of Noah Haidle’s Smokefall—a Goodman commission that premiered in the Owen last year—in order that a larger audience can experience the Anne Kauffman-directed smash sensation that topped “Best of 2013” theater lists and was recently named a finalist for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award. The original cast reassembles for the remount, led by “the incomparable Mike Nussbaum” (Chicago Tribune). In the Owen, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s “hard-hitting and bruisingly funny” (Time Out London) The World of Extreme Happiness, which was presented in workshop productions first in New Stages and at the National Theatre in London, makes its world premiere co-production with Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC presents the play off-Broadway at its Stage I following the Goodman run), directed by Eric Ting. Kicking off 2015, in the Albert, acclaimed local director Kimberly Senior makes her Goodman debut with the Chicago premiere of Rapture, Blister, Burn, Gina Gionfriddo’s “intensely smart, immensely funny new play” (New York Times), followed by Resident Director Chuck Smith’s revival of Two Trains Running, August Wilson’s searing portrait of life in the 1960s. In conjunction with his production, Smith curates a citywide celebration of the playwright on dual landmark occasions: the 70th anniversary of Wilson’s birth and 10th anniversary of his death. Partnering Chicago theaters present readings of all 10 plays in Wilson’s 20th Century Cycle, plus discussions and events, to explore his enduring impact (participants/partnerships TBA). In spring 2015 in the Owen, The Upstairs Concierge, Kristoffer Diaz’s farcical spoof of today’s fame-obsessed society that enjoyed a sold-out limited run during New Stages last season, makes its world premiere. Finally, Regina Taylor marks her 20th anniversary as an Artistic Associate with her new play stop. reset., following its successful off-Broadway run last year.

In an unprecedented partnership, the Goodman and The Second City join forces to present the hilarious holiday send-up, Twist Your Dickens, in the Owen to complement the 37th annual production of A Christmas Carol, which is directed by Artistic Associate Henry Wishcamper in the Albert. Finally, the Goodman once again partners with Albany Park Theater Project on their fifth production at the Goodman—a venture that has introduced more than 5,000 new audience members to APTP.

Also this season, Falls remounts Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh at Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York for a six-week run in February 2015. As previously announced, BAM and Scott Rudin present the acclaimed revival that appeared at the Goodman in 2012. Tony Award-winners Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy and the original cast reprise their roles.

2014 Financial Profile shows drop in state’s overall average score with more school districts earning lowest financial ranking

Posted by Admin On March - 14 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

ISBE analysis reflects one third of students in state are in schools in poor financial health


SPRINGFIELD, IL — Statewide data shows that Illinois public school districts are continuing to struggle financially with 532 districts – or nearly 62 percent – deficit spending, using their reserves or borrowing, this year compared to 32.5 percent in 2008. Despite significant cuts to schools’ staff and academic programs, the average score of district finances, based upon FY 2013 data, dropped below the highest financial ranking for the first time in five years, according to an annual Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) statewide review.

ISBE’s 2014 Financial Profiles of the state’s public schools, released during the Board’s monthly board meeting Wednesday, shows that one third of all Illinois public school students are in schools that rank in the lowest two financial categories. The annual Financial Profiles demonstrate K-12 education’s need for more state funding. The Board is seeking an additional $1.08 billion from lawmakers as an investment in a quality workforce for Illinois and a prosperous future for the state’s 2 million students. State elementary and secondary education funding was cut by nearly $1 billion from 2009 through 2012, and districts are also grappling with shrinking local resources.

“Tough choices have become par for the course for school district administrators and local boards as many have cut staff positions as well as arts and after-school programs, delayed construction projects and important repairs and are deficit-spending in order to pay the bills,” said Board Chairman Gery J. Chico. “Less state funding directly contributes to these struggles and appears to correlate to the rising number of districts in the highest risk category on our annual Financial Profile. With continued cuts to education funding, this trend will continue. Today’s lack of investment in education will be seen for many years to come in our economy and workforce.”

The Financial Profile provides a snapshot in time that helps ISBE gauge school districts’ financial condition. The profile’s designation categories in descending order are:

· Financial Recognition: This designation represents the highest category of financial strength. A district must receive a score of 3.54 to 4.00. Districts in this category require little or no review or involvement by ISBE unless requested by the district.

· Financial Review: Districts with a score of 3.08 to 3.53 receive this designation. Districts in this category receive a limited review by ISBE, but they will be monitored for potential downward trends. Staff will be assessing the next year’s school budget for negative trends as well.

· Early Warning: Districts with a score of 2.62 to 3.07 are placed in this category. ISBE monitors these districts closely and offers proactive technical assistance (e.g., financial projections and cash flow analysis, etc.). These districts are also reviewed to determine whether they meet the criteria set forth in Article 1A-8 of the School Code to be certified in financial difficulty and possibly qualify for a Financial Oversight Panel.

· Financial Watch: If a district receives a score of 1.00 to 2.61, it is placed in this highest risk category. As with the Financial Early Warning districts, ISBE monitors these districts very closely and offers them technical assistance including, but not limited to, financial projections, cash flow analysis, budgeting, personnel inventories and enrollment projections. These districts are also reviewed to determine whether they meet criteria set forth in Article 1A-8 of the School Code to be certified in financial difficulty and qualify for a Financial Oversight Panel.

The number of districts realizing Financial Recognition, the highest category, for the 2014 Profile decreased to 560 districts or 65 percent of the state’s 862 districts, resulting in two fewer districts than last year and 110 less than the 2012 Financial Profile. The number of districts listed in Financial Watch, the lowest designation, rose to 49 from 45 last year, while the number of districts in Financial Early warning grew to 72 from 67 in 2013. Statewide, 14 percent of school districts in the 2014 Financial Profile fell in the lowest two designation categories, compared to 12.9 percent for 2013.

The overall average 2014 profile score for all districts dropped to 3.52 (Financial Review) from the 2013 average score of 3.54 (Financial Recognition). The graph below outlines the state’s average profile score trend line over the last five years. Analysts believe the increase in the average profile score saw a brief uptick in 2013 due to the infusion of revenue from the federal stimulus funds, called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

A district is categorized based on its Annual Financial Report (AF) from Fiscal Year 2013, which ended June 30. The rating is created by using five indicators of financial performance:

· Fund Balance to Revenue Ratio

· Expenditures to Revenue Ratio

· Days Cash on Hand

· Percent of short-term borrowing available

· Percent of long-term debt remaining

The  2014 Financial Profile data shows how the unavailability of debt, reduced state funding appropriations and delays in receipt of state funding and local revenues have affected school districts’ financial performance. The funding appropriations for Fiscal Year 2015 could worsen the impact.

More Districts Deficit Spending

As economic conditions show no sign of improving, school districts are anticipating worse financial positions in the coming year. An analysis of the FY 2013 AFR data showed an increase in the proceeds of bond sales, which means that districts are funding deficit spending with long-term debt. Additionally, information submitted by school districts for FY 2014 forecasts that the number of districts with deficits will increase to 532 or 61.8 percent of all districts, compared to 420 or 48.7 percent in FY 2013.

Deficit spending is defined by spending more than one dollar for every dollar of revenue received in the fiscal year. Districts may deficit spend by dipping into their reserves or by long-term borrowing, which can create cash balances to build reserves. School districts submit a deficit reduction plan if their budgets are not balanced and they do not have an adequate fund balance to sustain the deficit. An adequate fund balance is defined as an ending fund balance that is three times the deficit amount. For example, if a district incurred a deficit of $100,000, it would be required to submit a deficit reduction plan if the ending fund balance was less than $300,000.

Of the 532 districts that expect to incur deficits in FY 2014, 109 school districts were required to submit a deficit reduction plan. Last year, 87 districts were required to submit a deficit reduction plan. ISBE staff will continue to monitor these school districts and conduct reviews to ensure all districts that are required to submit a deficit reduction plan have done so. After a thorough review, staff will report the districts that meet the criteria for certification in financial difficulty.

The table below depicts historical trends in school districts’ deficit spending.  The deficit is calculated by examining the four operational funds:  Educational Fund, Operation and Maintenance Fund, Pupil Transportation and Working Cash.

2008 Annual Financial Report

2009 Annual Financial Report

2010 Annual Financial Report

2011 Annual Financial Report

2012 Annual Financial Report

2013 Annual Financial Report

2014 Budget Report

Total Number of School Districts

869

867

864

863

861

862

860

Total Number of Deficit Spending School Districts

282

355

327

157

415

420

532

Percentage of Deficit Spending School Districts

32.5%

40.9%

37.8%

18.2%

48.2%

48.7%

61.8%

“When comparing Financial Profile data over the last decade, it’s apparent that districts have been forced to reduce expenditures and incur additional long-term debt in order to balance their budgets. Cutting expenses even further is going to be near impossible for most districts to do without negatively affecting the quality of education they provide,” said Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “This harsh reality is why we’re calling for K-12 education to comprise one-third of the state’s budget to ensure our graduates receive a competitive, 21st century education necessary to succeed in a global economy and improve our state’s economic vitality.”

Historically, Illinois’ State General Funds budget has dedicated about 27 percent to K-12 education. As part of their budget request, the Board is also asking that lawmakers honor the General State Aid (GSA) Foundation Level commitment of $6,119 per student. School districts have not received the full share of GSA promised to them under state law for the past three years.

Scores Adjusted for Delayed State Payments

For each year since 2009, the Financial Profile scores have been adjusted for delayed state-mandated categorical payments, such as pupil transportation and special education, due to the state and national recession. The school code was amended to ensure that districts are not designated as being in financial difficulty solely due to delayed state payments. Regarding mandated categorical payments for FY 2013, the State Board vouchered these payments, but the Comptroller made one payment after June 30. For districts on the cash basis of accounting, these payments were not recognized until the next fiscal year, 2014. If the payments had not been delayed, they would have been received in FY 2013.  Therefore, the Financial Profile indicators were adjusted as if the delayed payments were received.

While the Financial Profile alone cannot provide a complete picture of a district’s financial health, it provides a tool for ISBE staff to use with other data and information to assess an individual district’s financial status.

This is the 11th year that the Financial Profile has been used to evaluate districts.

From 2004 to 2009, the number of districts in Financial Recognition status on the Financial Profile increased each year. In 2010, the number of districts in Financial Recognition decreased to 578 from the previous year’s 626, due to the beginning of the economic downturn. For the 2011 and 2012 Financial Profiles, the number of districts in Financial Recognition increased again to 604 and 670, respectively, influenced by the infusion of revenue from the federal stimulus funds, called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). For 2013 and 2014, the number of districts in Financial Recognition declined to 562 and 560, respectively. This decline has been influenced by the proration of General State Aid.

Summary of Financial Watch List Districts

Of the 49 districts that are on the Financial Watch List this year:

· Eighteen remained as Watch from last year

· Two decreased from Recognition

· Thirteen decreased from Review

· Sixteen decreased from Early Warning

The Financial Watch List districts are from the following counties:

· Four in Madison County

· Three in Cook and Lake counties

· Two in Clinton, Crawford, Fulton, Jackson, Jefferson, LaSalle and Vermillion counties

· One in Bond, Bureau, Calhoun, Coles, Franklin, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Lawrence, Lee, Livingston, Macon, Marion, Pike, Pulaski, Rock Island, St. Clair, Sangamon, Tazewell, Wabash, White, Whiteside, Williamson and Winnebago counties

FY 2009-2014 Financial Profile Results

FY09 Financial Profile Based on FY08 data Adjusted

FY10 Financial Profile Based on FY09 data Adjusted

FY11 Financial Profile Based on FY10 data Adjusted

FY12 Financial Profile Based on FY11 data Adjusted

FY13 Financial Profile Based on FY12 data Adjusted

FY14 Financial Profile Based on FY13 data Adjusted

Financial Recognition

626

578

604

670

562

560

Financial Review

165

196

188

143

191

181

Financial Early Warning

57

66

52

37

67

72

Financial Watch

22

29

24

17

45

49

Total

870

869

868

867

865

862

The 2014 Financial Profile for all districts in Illinois can be found through ISBE’s School Business Services page in alphabetical order, by county or Financial Profile designation at http://www.isbe.net/sfms/P/profile.htm.


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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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