Gov. Bruce Rauner said Tuesday he’s directed his State Board of Education to begin a financial review of Chicago Public Schools and start a search for a new superintendent, even though legislation he wants to authorize a state takeover is dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled legislature.
“I thought we’d already addressed this,” said Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago ally of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The law doesn’t allow him to do that. So it’s not going to happen.”
Rauner’s actions are the latest in an effort to use the financial problems of the city’s schools as leverage in his battle with Emanuel and legislative Democrats to end a stalemate that has pushed the state into its eighth month without a complete budget.
The governor’s comments come a day after the Chicago Teachers Union rejected a four-year contract offer from the city, which the governor said should serve as a “wake-up call for the mayor and taxpayers in Chicago and around the state.”
“The mayor proposed an unaffordable contract, it was unaffordable, it was more kicking the can and getting by and he was pushing off the day of reckoning and the teachers union still rejected that,” Rauner said.
Despite the political realities of a Democrat-run legislature unwilling to turn over control of the state’s largest school system to a first-term Republican governor, Rauner said he is not deterred. He directed the state education board to prepare for a possible takeover anyway, with his office sending a memo asking education officials to identify someone who could serve as interim superintendent.