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Quinn vetoes school facilities bill

Governor Quinn announced Tuesday evening an amendatory veto of legislation to establish school facilities planning guidelines for CPS. Contacted today, the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Cynthia Soto, vowed to override the veto.

The bill, known as House Bill 363, passed both the House and Senate unanimously this spring.

“I was shocked and appalled” by the veto, Soto said. “I am really upset.” She said neither Quinn nor CPS raised the concerns in the governor’s veto during extensive negotiations over the legislation this spring.

Quinn reduced the number of state legislators and community representatives appointed by legislative leaders to a Chicago School Facilities Task Force and gave several task force slots to Mayor Daley and himself to fill. The task force is to consider school facilities policies, possibly proposing legislation to the General Assembly.

Soto vowed to work hard to override Quinn’s veto when the General Assembly reconvenes. Legislators could confirm or override Quinn’s changes — or take no action, allowing the bill to die.

Quinn’s changes “fundamentally undermine the likelihood that any meaningful changes will result from this process,” said Don Moore of Designs for Change. “It’s the policies of the Mayor and his board of education that are at the root of the inequities” which the task force is to address, he said.

“The Governor has hijacked a year-long Chicago school facility improvement campaign at the last minute, by stacking the task force and watering down its ability to come up with a strong fair policy,” said Valencia Rias of Designs. “He has disappointed many who thought he was different from the typical Illinois politician.”

Quinn’s office did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Soto said good neighborhood schools were being closed and their buildings given over to outside entities to run schools which aren’t open to local residents. “It’s segregation by gentrification,” she said.

“It isn’t fair. It isn’t fair to the taxpayers of the city of Chicago. It isn’t fair to the families whose children are being shifted around where they could be at risk. It isn’t fair to the principals and the teachers who work so hard. It isn’t fair to the parents who volunteer, who give so much of their time to make the schools better. They deserve a voice.”

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