ManarPanaStudents350A 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.”

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Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) issued the following statement on Tuesday, March 21, after learning more about Gov. Rauner's choice to lay off more than 100 unionized nurses at Illinois prisons and outsource their jobs to a private company:

"I can't keep up with Gov. Rauner's double talk about state workers. One day he says he wants to make sure they get paid. The next day he's laying them off and outsourcing their jobs.

"I spent some time in Pana today talking with fifth-graders about the importance of compromise in disagreements and about how all voices matter. I left feeling optimistic. An hour later I was getting phone calls from nervous constituents about Gov. Rauner's latest attack on organized labor.

"The truth is, Gov. Rauner would rather play hard ball than compromise. It's painful to watch him continue to mismanage the state in this way."

Category: Latest News

Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and chairman of a key Senate budget committee, explains the status of budget negotiations at the Capitol, including prospects for the Senate’s so-called “grand bargain,” the Rauner administration's reluctance to suggest cuts and examples of apparent mismanagement of the state by the governor.

Category: Latest News

NurseAtWorkA measure designed to fill a projected workforce shortage in rural Illinois while connecting students with good-paying careers in health care advanced out of a Senate committee this week.

Senate Bill 888, sponsored by Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), would allow community colleges to award four-year nursing degrees in an effort to deepen the pool of qualified registered nurses available to be hired by Illinois health care employers.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bachelor’s degree today is considered the national entry-level educational standard for a registered nurse. A 2015 report by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation indicated that about a third of registered nurses age 55 and older planned to retire within five years, prompting concerns about a statewide nursing shortage.

Manar said the district he represents, which spans rural and underserved areas of downstate Illinois, stands to be especially hard hit by the nursing shortage.

Currently in Illinois, only universities may award bachelor’s degrees in nursing, but they have not been able to address the nursing shortage in some areas of the state.

Community colleges are well suited to help four-year universities ensure hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and medical offices throughout the state have a pool of well-qualified nursing applicants from which to hire, Manar said, adding that it’s also a good way to stem the tide of young people leaving Illinois in search of jobs.

“This approach may be outside of the box for Illinois, but nationally we would not be an outlier. Eleven other states do this type of thing with their community colleges,” Manar said.

“This discussion is about something much bigger than simply the traditional mission of Illinois’ universities and community colleges,” he said. “This is about offering excellent health care, planning for the future, adapting to changing critical workforce needs, offering affordable options for job training, putting people in good-paying jobs and keeping young people in the communities – and the state –where they grew up. These are all vitally important issues in Illinois, and this legislation touches on all of them.”

Senate Bill 888 grants 20 Illinois community colleges the ability to award bachelor of science degrees in nursing and sets standards for establishing nursing programs, including accreditation, documenting unmet workforce needs and more.

It also calls for a four-year review of the effort by the Illinois Community College Board, including a comprehensive statewide evaluation of newly created programs and a written report submitted to the State Board of Higher Education, the governor and both chambers of the General Assembly before July 1, 2022.

The legislation does not require community colleges to offer the degrees. State money may not be used to establish or maintain the program, according to the legislation.

The measure advanced out of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee on Tuesday.

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School Funding Reform

 

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