(The Center Square) – An Illinois Auditor General’s report shows an error at the Illinois State Board of Education resulted in an overpayment of more than $87 million to Chicago Public Schools over several years.
The coding error in the system was made by a third party and resulted in overstated payments to Chicago Public Schools of $6,726,771 in 2019, $17,910,724 in 2020, $17,910,724 in 2021, and $44,964,721 in 2022 for a cumulative total of $87,512,940, according to an Illinois Auditor General report released Wednesday.
CPS was the only district to get overpaid.
“The Agency recorded a liability of $42.552 million, representing the amount through June 30, 2021,” the report said. “As of May 26, 2022, the Agency was in discussions with Chicago Public Schools regarding repayment to the Agency of the overpayment Chicago Public Schools received. As the resolution has not been determined, the Agency did not record an associated receivable in the financial statements.”
State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, is now calling on the Illinois Auditor General to audit the Chicago Public School system to find out where the extra funds were spent.
“I need to make sure that the public is aware of CPS spending patterns,” Ford said. “It would be great to say that the extra money they received, that they should not have received, went to benefit the schools, but I can’t say that it did.”
Ford also said the whole situation shows a lack of institutional control and bad business by CPS.
“What we need to know is, was Chicago not honest about the money, we would expect anyone who received money that’s not theirs to know that they were given more and return it,” Ford said.
The Chicago Public School system, one of the largest in the nation, is preparing a $9.5 billion budget.
CPS test scores have been trending downward for years with student reading proficiency dropping 70% and math proficiency dropping 80% since 2010, according to research by the Illinois Policy Institute.
The Chicago Tribune reported last year several CPS buildings that had unsuitable conditions for students. George Washington High in Chicago this week discussed a hole in the ceiling and asbestos in the walls.
Ford said with all the funding these schools get, these problems should not happen.
“We need an audit because now we have to find out exactly why, why are these kids experiencing these types of outcomes in their schools,” Ford told The Center Square.
If an audit is conducted, Ford said, taxpayers will be able to see the issues plaguing the system.
“When we are able to prove this, then it’s like finally admitting there is a problem, and when we can admit that there is a problem, we can finally start to do something about it,” he said.
The Chicago Public School System did not reply to a request for comment.