ManarSchoolsFMinusSPRINGFIELD – The governor’s school funding reform commission completed its work on deadline today, but fair and adequate education funding remains out of reach for too many children across Illinois, Senator Andy Manar said.

“If we can get a bill in front of lawmakers this spring, then that will be the true measure of success for the governor’s commission,” said Manar, a longtime advocate for school funding reform and the Senate’s point person on the issue. “But forgive me if I’m not ready to unfurl the mission accomplished banner just yet.”

During the summer, Gov. Bruce Rauner appointed a 25-member commission tasked with studying Illinois worst-in-the-nation school funding formula, which creates winners and losers among students and school districts across Illinois because of its overreliance on local property taxes to fund schools.

The commission met 18 times between August and today. Its final recommendations include moving Illinois to a new funding formula, a hold-harmless clause to prevent districts from losing state funds, more local control and greater transparency about spending, mandate relief for school districts, additional money for English learners and low-income students and more.

The bipartisan commission also recommended an increase of at least $3.5 billion for school funding.

“The commission should be commended for its work the past six months. I am pleased that we have a new level of awareness of the state’s school funding crisis because of this bipartisan, bicameral discussion,” Manar said.

“But in terms of a product, that work yielded another report on Illinois’ already well-documented school funding reform problems. We have a loose framework – a guide – for moving forward. What we do not have today is a piece of legislation to debate in the General Assembly. That has to be the next step.”

Manar commended Beth Purvis, Rauner’s secretary of education, for her leadership role with the commission and said he looks forward to the governor’s staff translating the recommendations into a bill that will be introduced in the Legislature this spring.

“The commission’s work was substantial, but what happens now is up to Gov. Rauner,” Manar said. “The goal has always been and should continue to be permanent reform that guarantees fair funding for all Illinois schools.”

Category: School Funding Reform

ManarEdRallyIllinois must do a better job of prioritizing education funding for students who live in poverty and have special needs, Senator Andy Manar said Wednesday during a meeting of the governor’s commission on school funding reform.

Even with the additional investment the state made in K-12 schools this year, Illinois is unlikely to move the needle on better educational outcomes because the state does not drive enough dollars to the districts where they’re most needed, Manar added.

“We invest less in children who live in poverty than those who don’t. We spend billions of dollars without appropriately accounting for the needs of students today,” Manar said. “The result is that Illinois has some of the largest income-based achievement gaps in the nation.”

Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat, is a vigorous advocate for overhauling Illinois’ 20-year-old school funding formula and one of the state’s most knowledgeable lawmakers about the disparities the formula creates. He is one of five Democratic state senators seated on the governor’s commission on school funding reform, which is expected to deliver recommendations to the governor by February.

Manar was invited to address the panel on Wednesday about the importance of equity in developing a fair school funding formula, particularly as the numbers of poor, special-needs and non-English-speaking students grow in school districts throughout the state.

“Illinois is not doing nearly enough to help students who require more resources to be successful. And because of our outdated funding formula, we pour money into districts that have lower rates of poverty and special needs in the classroom,” Manar said.

“The good news is that we’re beginning to recognize that what’s needed in the classroom to achieve the outcomes we want in Springfield is different city by city, district by district. We have to do a better job of focusing our resources on districts with the cost drivers – the at-risk, special needs and bilingual students. The more we do that, the faster we’re going to get to a system that is both equal and equitable over time.”

Category: School Funding Reform

Members of the governor's commission on school funding reform met for the first time Aug. 3 in Chicago to begin assessing the best path forward for overhauling the state's education funding formula.

Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is one of 25 members appointed to to the panel.

The commission heard from several education experts, including Michael Griffith, a school financial strategist with the Colorado-based Education Commission of the States.

Slides from three presentations at the commission's first meeting are below.


State of Illinois slides for the governor's school funding reform commission, meeting 1:


Slides for Michael Griffiths, Education Commission of the States:


Illinois State Board of Education slides:

Category: School Funding Reform

d48 schoolsSPRINGFIELD- Schools throughout the 48th district will receive increased state funding next year under a bipartisan plan approved by Illinois Senate on Thursday.

“This is just a small step in the right direction,” said State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill). “Our true task remains unchanged because we still own the most regressive system of school funding in the country. Until we address that truth, and fix the formula, our work isn’t done.”

The plan would fully fund the state’s foundation level, and then funnel an additional $250 million to schools through an equity grant. The equity grant would target schools that have high levels of low-income students.

These suggested spending levels also ensure that no school receives less funding than a year ago.

“We know the formula must be fixed, and I’m hopeful that when we return to Springfield in the fall we will continue our effort to craft a comprehensive school funding reform package,” Manar said.


Category: School Funding Reform

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