ManarPanaStudents350Illinois is poised to replace its rotten school funding formula with a new formula that ensures schools throughout the state are fairly and adequately funded for the first time in decades.

On May 31, the Legislature approved a landmark overhaul approved a landmark overhaul of the school funding formula. Under Senate Bill 1, no schools would lose any funding – an important point because it alleviates concerns about “winners” and “losers” that arose under past school funding reform models.

Schools in the central Illinois district I represent have scraped by for years with old textbooks and art classes in cramped janitors’ closets, while students in wealthier areas of the state flourished in schools with the latest classroom technology, STEM resources, orchestras and swimming pools.

Senate Bill 1 aims to level the playing field by funneling new money to school districts that are the least able to offer a high-quality education based on student needs, local property wealth and a district’s taxing effort.

I've provided a list of my area school districts below and estimates of how they would fare under the Illinois State Board of Education’s modeling of Senate Bill 1.

Even though every Illinois school would benefit under this plan – which is widely supported by school administrators, educators and funding reform advocates – few Republican lawmakers voted to support it, and Gov. Rauner has pledged to veto it (though he flip-flopped on two Chicago radio interviews, calling it a good bill).

Republicans have staged a misinformation campaign since last week, resorting to publishing fake numbers that intentionally mislead constituents and hide the truth about why they voted against a plan that benefits schools in their districts.

School funding reform is an initiative that I’ve championed for years. I’ve traveled to far-flung Illinois towns to explain how the formula works. My commitment to reforming this broken system of ours has meant long drives, late nights and time away from my family.

The years of discussion, research and bipartisan negotiation gave way finally to full legislative approval of Senate Bill 1. It’s a good bill that corrects a long-standing wrong and puts all of our children on the path to a brighter future.
To watch colleagues in the Legislature now manipulate the facts in an attempt to kill this measure because of politics makes my stomach turn.

That’s why I’m calling on each of you to make an investment of your own time in this cause – whether you’re a parent, a taxpayer or both. Read the legislation or an analysis and seek out credible news sources to develop an understanding of what school districts throughout Illinois are up against. Send me your questions; as the sponsor of three school funding reform bills, I’ve learned a lot about the issue, and I am happy to share that knowledge with you.

And when you, too, are satisfied that Senate Bill 1 is the fairest approach to funding all Illinois schools, I hope you will join me in urging Gov. Rauner to sign it into law.

Because, regardless of what you’ve been told, nobody is trying to “bail out” one particular school district. We’re trying to rescue hundreds of them.

Continue reading to find the following information:

  • accurate estimates of how local school districts would fare under Senate Bill 1
  • links to find out how your elected officials voted on Senate Bill 1
  • contact information for Gov. Rauner so you can urge him to sign Senate Bill 1
  • links to recent news about Senate Bill 1 and the school funding crisis in Illinois

Read more: The truth about school funding reform

Category: School Funding Reform

Manar: ‘Lawmakers and the governor have to stop fighting to preserve a broken system.’

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SPRINGFIELD — Central Illinois school districts, shortchanged for decades under Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation education funding formula, could see a significant influx of funding to level the playing field with wealthier districts under Senate Bill 1, legislation sponsored by Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), that passed in the Senate Wednesday night.

The measure will be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature. Manar said it should meet the governor’s approval because it reflects recommendations that were put forth by the education funding reform commission that the governor convened last year. It also has the support of hundreds of superintendents, principals, educators, school administrators, parents, school funding advocates and legislators from all over the state.

“I am pleased and incredibly proud that after four years of studying and debating the issue of school funding, lawmakers from all over Illinois today were able to agree finally that students in schools all over Illinois are struggling because of an unfair and inadequate funding system,” Manar said.

“This is a good bill because it addresses the root of the problem we have: inequity. Lawmakers and the governor have to stop fighting to preserve a broken system. This plan will send money to the poorest districts in the state. I represent some of them. This enables us to turn a major corner for the first time in 20 years in Illinois and attack poverty in the public school classroom.”

An analysis of Illinois State Board of Education figures released estimates this week by Funding Illinois’ Future shows potential funding increases for local school districts under Senate Bill 1, an evidence-based model that accounts for factors such as students with disabilities, English language learners and low-income students. It also provides extra support for the neediest districts in the quest for adequate funding, and it offers property tax relief.

The estimated overall gain area school districts would experience under the Funding Illinois’ Future analysis of SB1 based on FY17 funding levels:

  • Decatur District 61 — $2.77 million
  • Springfield District 186 — $1.08 million
  • Alton District 11 — $953,238
  • Riverton District 14 — $567,582
  • Auburn District 10 — $474,829
  • Pana District 8 — $468,590
  • North Mac District 34 — $410,982
  • Staunton District 6 — $353,874
  • Jacksonville District 117 — $323,087
  • Taylorville District 3 — $314,210
  • Southwestern District 9 — $296,416
  • Litchfield District 12 — $293,226
  • Carlinville District 1 — $258,843
  • Bunker Hill District 8 — $199,727

To review the Funding Illinois’ Future analysis, visit fundingilfuture.org.

Category: School Funding Reform

Manar05242017With two days left in the legislative session and no signal from Gov. Bruce Rauner that he intends to sign a school funding reform plan this spring, Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) called attention to school districts he represents that are forced to compete under an unfair system Monday, May 29.

“Take a school district like Taylorville that in recent years has laid off 40 percent of its teachers and staff because the state has failed to get this right in Springfield,” said Manar, the sponsor of Senate Bill 1, a school funding reform measure that passed in the Senate and is pending in the House.

“For too many years we’ve poured good money into a bad system, and the system prevents Taylorville from getting what it needs to offer basic services to kids.

“And take a district like Morrisonville where they’re using 20-year-old textbooks but they’re held to the same standards as everybody else in the state. Those kids are required to take the same standardized tests and perform as well.”

Manar said the Senate Democrats’ school funding model, coupled with the balanced budget proposal the caucus advanced last week, represent the best chance struggling downstate schools have for regaining the sound financial footing many of them lost during Gov. Rauner’s budget stalemate with the legislature. Senate Bill 1 would enable the state to establish a formula that fairly and adequately funds schools for the first time in more than 20 years.

“The Senate Democrats’ budget prioritizes that funding for those students who aren’t just in the city of Chicago, but are all across Illinois,” Manar said. “Those are the things that we have put forward and have led on, that will result in lower class sizes, more technology in the classroom and more services to children who live in poverty. All of these things will produce better outcomes from public schools, regardless of where they are in the state.”

Category: School Funding Reform

Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) explains the challenges of advancing a school funding reform plan to Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk.

"The governor has traveled the state in recent weeks and has patted himself on the back for what he calls 'a record level of funding,'" Manar said in this May 19 interview at the Capitol. "What the goernor doesn't, of course, say is that along with that has come a record level of inequity because he has been standing in the way of reform.

"Just today, the governor issues a statement decrying the bill that was just passed — a bill that his own school funding commission recommended. The governor's own budget proposal that was filed 14 days after his school funding commission put out detailed recommendations did the opposite of what his own commission recommended.

"So it's pretty clear to me the governor is standing in the way of us getting this done once and for all. But nonetheless, we need his signature on a bill to make it the law of the land."

Watch for more about how Democrats are leading on the issue of school funding reform in Illinois.

Category: School Funding Reform

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Contact Me

Springfield Office:
119A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: (217) 782-0228
Fax: (217) 557-3930

Decatur Office:
Macon County Office Building
141 S. Main St., Suite 502
Decatur, IL 62523
Phone: (217) 429-8110
Fax: (217) 429-8018

Bunker Hill Office:
115 N. Washington, P.O. Box 636
Bunker Hill, IL 62014
Phone: (618) 585-4848