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Manar: Time is now to change school funding (VIDEO)

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No Illinois schools would lose out on state money under a revised school funding reform plan introduced Tuesday by Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill).

The legislation, Senate Bill 231, provides that state funding for education would be distributed based on student need while ensuring that no district would receive less state money than it did in the 2015-16 school year.

“We’ve waited a generation to try to do this. We’ve been listening to Gov. Rauner, who says kids are our number one priority. We agree. That’s our priority, too,” Manar said. “As a result, under this proposal no school would lose any state money. This legislation allows him to keep his word and us to keep our commitment to bring funding fairness to public education.”

The legislation comes after lengthy conversations with school district leaders and lawmakers statewide, as well as careful attention to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desire that no school district lose money under any reform of the state’s school funding formula.

The state’s current formula for funding education, adopted in 1997, created a system in which school spending varies drastically. Currently,  some schools spend as much as $30,000 per student, while others can only afford about $6,000. Manar’s proposal targets state dollars to schools where the dollars can produce the biggest academic turnaround among students. Examples would be schools with high concentrations of students living in poverty, students with disabilities and English learners.

Facing economic pressures, in 2012 the state began a process of shortchanging the state’s investment in public kindergarten through high school education. A year later, the Senate Education Funding Advisory Committee (EFAC) was created to study the impact of these cuts in the hope of addressing the fundamental unfairness of the state’s school funding system. Since then, Manar has sponsored two other plans aimed at achieving this goal, Senate Bill 16 and Senate Bill 1.

“Everyone recognizes the current system is broken,” said Manar. “It’s time to come together and support a modern funding system that ensures all students in Illinois – from Cairo to Rockford – have the same opportunities to learn and to compete.”

Students discuss the effects lack of funding has on education: