Education Committee looks at early childhood funding fixes

jbt 053018SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate Education Committee discussed solutions to statewide funding shortages for early childhood education programs this week.

State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) led the charge last year to establish an evidence-based funding formula to dispense state dollars to public schools more effectively and is ready to take on the issue of early childhood education.

“Our goal is to guarantee all Illinois’ children are given the opportunity to succeed,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “After last year’s effort, we are one step closer to ending education inequalities in our communities by funding schools the right way. The next step is to tackle the way we fund our early childhood programs.”

As a result of this new school funding formula, schools across Illinois received $350 million in additional funding this year while no schools received less funding than a year ago. Public schools across the 49th State Senate District received more than $22 million in new money for the 2018-2019 school year.

“This hearing reiterated the necessity to revamp the way we currently fund early childhood programs in Illinois,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “The current grant process is pitting schools against each other instead of promoting opportunities for all of our children.”

Dr. Kris Monn, Superintendent of Minooka Elementary School District 201, helped paint a clear picture on the difficulties local schools face due to uncalculated changes made to the competitive grant process. 

The Minooka School District routinely qualified for the early childhood funding grant in the past but was denied this year, requiring the school to self-fund part of the program to ensure children were not removed from their programs. 

“Two years ago this body made a monumental shift in how we fund education,” Monn said.  “Six months ago, we saw that the schools with the best grant writing received state dollars, instead of those who need it the most. There is a flaw in the way we decided to divvy up the dollars for preschools. I urge members of the General Assembly to push for a preschool funding program that drives dollars to the districts that need it the most.”

As the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Bertino-Tarrant pledges to work to revamp the way state dollars are allocated to early childhood programs during the upcoming legislative session.

Sen. Bertino-Tarrant

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49th Senate District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Commerce and Economic Development; Education (Chairperson); Insurance; Labor; Licensed Activities (Vice-Chairperson); Transportation; Subcommittee on Capital (TR); Subcommittee on Special Issues (ED) (Sub-Chairperson).

Biography: Lifelong educator; former Will County superintendent and secretary of Will County Regional Board of School Trustees; B.A., Illinois State University; MS, University of St. Francis; EdD., Loyola.

Associated Representatives:
Mark Batinick
Natalie A. Manley