SPRINGFIELD – Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) issued the following statement regarding the Senate’s vote to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s erroneous veto of Senate Bill 444:

The Senate’s override vote helps to correct a poor governing decision that so far has delayed execution of the new school funding formula by nearly three months. I look forward to the House taking the same course of action so that we can put this sorry situation is behind us and allow the Illinois State Board of Education to move forward with its work. Schools and communities all over the state are anxious for this to be ironed out once and for all.

Category: School Funding Reform

AWM08132017 350BUNKER HILL – The governor’s veto of a simple trailer bill this afternoon creates potential chaos for every Illinois school that stands to benefit from long-overdue funding reform, State Senator Andy Manar said today.

The last-minute veto of Senate Bill 444, technical cleanup legislation requested by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s own administration and passed quickly by the General Assembly two months ago, boggles the mind, said Manar, the chief Senate sponsor of Illinois’ historic, bipartisan school funding reform overhaul.

“Here’s what Gov. Rauner accomplished today: absolute chaos while undoing all of the equity components in the school funding reform legislation that he takes credit for passing,” said Manar (D-Bunker Hill). “Underfunded schools that have been subjected to an unfair formula for decades will have to continue to wait because of Bruce Rauner’s inexplicable actions today.”

The General Assembly responded immediately in November to a request from the Illinois State Board of Education, part of the Rauner administration, with bipartisan legislation to help the state quickly implement the new school funding formula.

But rather than immediately sign SB444, Gov. Rauner sat on the measure and issued a last-minute amendatory veto this afternoon. That veto now stands to derail implementation of the new formula, which ISBE had indicated it was on track to move forward with immediately.

“Today, Gov. Rauner tossed his own request in the trash by once again unconstitutionally rewriting legislation, just like he did last year with his veto of Senate Bill 1, the school funding reform bill,” Manar said. “I am truly perplexed and puzzled by the motivations of this governor, who claims to care deeply about public education in Illinois. Why would he veto a bill that he sought in the first place?”

Category: School Funding Reform

10202017 Manar Gill Cits Club Bfast 550

Senator Andy Manar was a panelist at an Oct. 20 Citizens Club of Springfield discussion about the status of school funding reform in Illinois.

Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat who spearheaded legislative efforts to enact the Illinois' first school funding overhaul in more than 20 years, was joined by Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Jennifer Gill and Ball-Chatham Superintendent Douglas Wood.

Manar updated the audience on the status of implementing the new school funding law and offered a look back at the more than four-year effort to pass the major reform, reflecting that for him it became "very much an exercise in listening" to other people, including colleagues in the Legislature, to experts in education policy and to parents and taxpayers in communities statewide.

Manar said he intends to turn his attention next to the teacher shortage that is affecting communities throughout Illinois, a situation he described as a "full-fledged crisis."

Category: School Funding Reform

AWMBHSchool 350BUNKER HILL — Dusty Rhodes, a reporter with Illinois Issues and NPR Illinois in Springfield, produced an excellent piece about the nearly five-year fight for school funding reform in Illinois waged by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), State Representative Will Davis (D-Homewood) and others. That battle culminated with legislation that was signed into law Aug. 31 this year.

The opening excerpt from Rhodes' report describes a familiar place that Senator Manar discussed countless times in communities throughout the state while advocating for school funding reform: the art classroom at his children's elementary school in Bunker Hill that originally was a janitor's closet.


The new art teacher at Wolf Ridge Elementary seems a bit surprised to find a state senator in her classroom, and a little curious about why he brought a reporter with him.

“This room infuriates me. It infuriates me,” explains Andy Manar.

Over the past five years, he made this art class infamous, mentioning it multiple times in speeches from the Senate floor as he has argued for the state of Illinois to overhaul its school funding system. Manar, a Democrat, is a lifelong resident and former mayor of Bunker Hill. His three children — Abbie, Will and Bennie — now attend Wolf Ridge, the local public elementary school.

But when Manar himself attended this school, back in the 1980s, he never had a class in this particular room, because back then, it was the janitor’s closet.

“I knew as soon as I came in that’s what it was,” says Anne Michalski, the new teacher. Beyond the fact that it’s a fraction of the size of a regular classroom: “There’s no windows. It’s all cinder blocks,” she said. “But you always have to look on the bright side…”

Manar finished her sentence: “...at least we have art.”

But all that is about to change — albeit very slowly — thanks to a new school funding plan that became law last week. On the afternoon we visited Wolf Ridge, Manar had spent the morning on a victory tour of several schools around the state. He and a handful of other lawmakers functioned as the warm-up speakers for Gov. Bruce Rauner. Two days later, the cast expanded for a big show at Ebinger Elementary in Chicago, where Rauner used a dozen different pens to affix his signature to the new law.

Such a series of celebrations, plus the crowd piling onto the bandwagon, hint at the significance of this legislation: It marks the turning point of Illinois’ decades-deep history of inadequate and inequitable school funding. Henceforth, districts will receive state aid based on the needs of their student population. That means schools that serve families living in poverty will get more state dollars than schools where families have stable, comfortable homes. And districts with low property wealth — like Manar’s hometown of Bunker Hill, where the median home price is half the state average — will also get an extra dose of state aid. That’s one reason Manar has been championing this cause longer, louder and harder than any other lawmaker.


Read the rest of the Sept. 7 piece and listen to the audio.

(Photo credit: Dusty Rhodes, NPR Illinois)

Category: School Funding Reform

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