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Senate approves Manar’s plan to reform school funding system (AUDIO)

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A proposal to overhaul Illinois’ decades-old school funding system received Senate approval today. Senate Bill 16, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D–Bunker Hill), would require the state to appropriate 92 percent of its public school funding based on the financial need of each school district.

“The Senate took an important step in the process of fundamentally changing how the state funds school districts to achieve greater equity,” Manar said. “There was a strong coalition of support from lawmakers in Chicago, the suburbs and downstate Democrats, but there is still more work to be done, and I expect more changes to be made to the proposal as it progresses. But I can’t stress enough how important it was to clear this first hurdle.”

Over the past year, Manar has been developing a new school funding formula that will change the way the state distributes $6.7 billion in aid to education. Unchanged since 1997, the current education funding system only distributes 44 cents for every $1 invested in education on the basis of district need.

Under the new funding system, 92 cents of every $1 invested by the state in the K-12 education system, with the exception of funds for early childhood education, construction projects and high-cost special education, would flow through a single funding formula.

“This new funding system will bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots. It will better address student needs, such as socio-economic background, language ability or special learning needs, while also accounting for a school district’s ability to raise funds locally,” Manar said. “The Senate sent a message today that we want all Illinois students to succeed, not just a select few.”

“I applaud Senator Andy Manar for effectively advancing the fundamental issue of equity for our schools," President John Cullerton said. "While there have been many hurdles along the way, those challenges have not stopped his effort to find a more fair funding system for all of Illinois’ students."

The proposal now moves to the House for consideration.

Click below to hear Senator Manar's closing remarks on the Senate floor: