From the standpoint of its property tax base, Chicago is not a poor district. Thus, even though its student body is overwhelmingly poor, school finance reform likely would bring it only moderate financial gain.

In the last 15 years, “we’ve built a lot of new buildings in the city, and the value of homes has increased significantly. Now it’s about mid-range in terms of property wealth per pupil,” observes G. Alfred Hess Jr., a research professor at Northwestern University.

He also notes that the outcome for Chicago—indeed, for all districts in the state—would depend not only on the amount of new money for schools but also on how the money gets distributed. For example, Chicago would benefit from increased funding of the so-called poverty grant.

Any revenue gains realized by Chicago likely would reflect the state average, Hess says.

Chicago school officials support a shift from the property taxes to state taxes. “We’re definitely advocating for some property tax relief for our residents here in Chicago,” says Pedro Martinez, CPS budget director.

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