- Published: Friday, March 24, 2017 05:08 PM
A school funding reform measure filed this week by Senator Andy Manar mirrors a plan pending in the Illinois House in an effort to spur lawmakers forward on a problem that has vexed the state for 20 years.
Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and a longtime advocate for overhauling Illinois’ system of funding K-12 public schools, is the chief sponsor of Senate Bill 1.
“No longer are we debating whether the school funding formula is broken. It’s a proven and widely known fact,” Manar said. “Yet, too many people sit on their hands in Springfield while students, parents and educators all over Illinois are forced to contend with the consequences every day.”
Senate Bill 1 would introduce an evidence-based model for funding Illinois schools, as proposed by the governor’s bipartisan school funding reform commission. It would replace the state’s current school funding formula, which is considered one of the worst in the nation because of its reliance on local property taxes and the inequities it creates among school districts.
How the evidence-based model generally works:
- The state would determine an adequate amount of per-pupil funding for each school district based on the traits of each district.
- The state would distribute funding using a base minimum funding level, ensuring no district would receive less state funding going forward than it receives currently.
- Additional state dollars would be sent districts using a tiered system based on how well a district is funded in terms of meeting its adequacy target.
Senate Bill 1 also calls for establishing a panel of stakeholders and legislators to periodically review the evidence-based model and offer recommendations to the State Board of Education, the General Assembly and the governor.
“This proposal allows us to begin the school funding debate anew in the Legislature with an eye on the larger picture of long-term investment in our schools and economic prosperity for all of Illinois,” Manar said.
“The sooner we start to fairly fund public education in Illinois, the sooner we can expect to see results: shrinking achievement gaps, higher graduation numbers, strong economic growth and generations of young people who are prepared to meet the challenges of college and the workforce.”