SPRINGFIELD – A school funding reform measure filed this week by Senator Andy Manar (D) mirrors a plan pending in the Illinois House. After years of discussing the inequities in the current school funding formula, that is overly reliant on local property taxes that results in urban areas having a wealth of taxes, while agricultural areas struggle — Sen Manar hopes to pass a measure that would put more money in the poorest school districts, while not reducing state aid to the wealthier districts.
Sen Manar, Democrat from Central Illinois, where districts are often among those whose per-pupil funding is at the low-end, has long argued that the quality of an education will play a major part in your ability to have a good future. But those students who were born in areas with low property values, or where there is virtually no commercial property, are at a disadvantage at birth, due to the manner in which Illinois disperses funding for K-12 education.
The legislation he proposes is Senate Bill 1
In a statement, Sen Manar said, “No longer are we debating whether the school funding formula is broken. It’s a proven and widely known fact,” Manar said.
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.
In a press release issued on SB-1, the evidence-based model generally works like this:
- 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.”