The Financial Catastrophe Looming Over Chicago Public Schools, in 6 Numbers

The 74:

The financial perils threatening Chicago Public Schools are highlighted in the following six numbers.


The size of the CPS’s long-term debt as of June — prior to its request Wednesday to continue to borrow. The district also had $870 million of outstanding short-term debt as of June.


The board approved CPS’s request for a $1.5 billion credit line on Wednesday, which will require setting aside another $35 million for interest payments. Since last August, all three major credit agencies had rated the district’s debt as “junk.” As a consequence, CPS will be forced to pay higher interest on future loans.


The board also approved CPS’s request to borrow $945 million for capital improvement projects, including school construction and improvement. Some analysts questioned the district’s plan, noting it already sold $725 million worth of bonds earlier this year to investors at an extraordinarily high 8.5 percent interest rate. That debt won’t be paid off until 2044.


After a year-long stalemate, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and lawmakers agreed in June to approve a stopgap budget that will keep the state afloat for six months and allow school districts to open their doors this fall. The deal allowed the board to levy an additional property tax in Chicago estimated to yield $250 million to cover teachers’ pensions. (The district will still need the state and teachers union to help with pension payments, per below.)