The bad news for Chicago Public Schools seems to keep piling on.
Two of the largest credit rating agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, downgraded the ratings on city and district, in the latest blow for the beleaguered school system.
Moody’s downgraded the city to Ba1 and the district to Ba3, while Fitch Ratings downgraded the city to BBB+, Forbes reported on Monday.
The Moody’s downgrade forces the city and district into sub-investment grade status and garners unfavorable comparisons to Detroit, which went bankrupt in 2013.
The city’s school system faces a huge budget gap, and the governor of Illinois even suggested bankruptcy might be the best option for the district.
“This investigation is very sad, I hope there’s been no wrong-doing, but Chicago Public Schools has been a source of patronage, cronyism, dealings, massive bureaucracy,” Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said to CBS Chicago last month.
“It hasn’t really served the families and the parents of the children in a very long time,” he added.
The downgrade follows recent reports of a US government investigation into Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for possible financial misconduct.
A key figure in the federal investigation is CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who was put on a paid leave of absence during an investigation into a $US20.5 million no-bid contract awarded to a private company called SUPES Academy, the Chicago Tribune reported in April.
That award money came under fire since Byrd-Bennett was once employed by SUPES Academy, a company that trains teachers and administrators, prior to her role at CPS.
The federal investigation of possible misconduct further complicates Emanuel’s already-controversial strategy of using the private sector to improve public education. It also comes at a time of financial uncertainty for the public school system, which faces a potential shortfall of $US1.1 billion next year, according to the Chicago Tribune.
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