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School funding reform updates unveiled (VIDEO)

manar-sb1-2-3-15The statewide effort to transform Illinois school funding is continuing at the Capitol.

State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), Rep. Will Davis (D-Hazel Crest) and Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago) joined supporters to announce updates to last year’s need-based reform proposal and called for increased overall school funding during a press conference Tuesday.

Manar introduced the School Funding Reform Act of 2015 as an amendment to Senate Bill 1. It replaces Senate Bill 16 from last year and the previous General Assembly. The announcement follows the Illinois State Board of Education’s call for a 10.7 percent increase in school spending last month.

 

“There’s an obvious need to make school funding more fair and transparent, but there’s also an undeniable need to increase funding as a whole. These updates are grounded in the basic principle that we should give help where it is needed,” Manar said.

Davis introduced identical legislation in the House.

“Through it all, we listened to what has been said and heard the concerns. I look forward to continuing the dialogue and including the need for more revenue,” Davis said.

The proposal replaces the General State Aid formula and a web of complex, opaque grants with a single, need-based funding formula that improves accountability and transparency.

“This is the civil rights issue of our time. Equity in education funding is essential for leveling the playing field, so that talent and hard work, not zip code, determine a child’s chance to succeed. I’m happy to support the Governor’s call for $729 million of new education funds, but this bill is essential with or without the increase,” Mitchell said.

“The time to change Illinois' school funding formula to provide equity is now. It's time to send funds to kids based on their individual needs, not their zip codes,” said Tony Sanders, CEO of DuPage County’s U-46 school district.

The updates to last year’s proposal include a method of comparing regional costs, a more accurate way of measuring poverty, improved reporting for bilingual education and sends additional funding to districts with higher-than-average rates of students with special education needs.

The new provisions also expedite a study to determine the base level of funding needed for student growth, and it protects districts from losses that are not spending adequately.

ISBE is in the process of projecting how these changes will affect individual school districts.

A briefing document detailing the background and structure of the bill is attached.

 

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