Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Current School Funding System is "a disservice to taxpayers, school districts and, most importantly, our children" --Illinois Senator Andy Manar

 Dear Friends,

“Every child deserves the opportunity to learn. Every taxpayer deserves to know his or her tax dollars are being used effectively. The current school funding system cheats both children and taxpayers.”

That quotation is from an op-ed written by former Congressman and Southern Illinois University President Dr. Glenn Poshard. It accurately defines the problems with our current school funding system. It’s outdated, it’s complicated and it’s doing a disservice to taxpayers, school districts and, most importantly, our children. And for those reasons, we need to take action now to reform Illinois’ school funding system.

On Wednesday, April 2, I joined my colleagues in introducing the School Funding Reform Act of 2014, a proposal to streamline the current hodgepodge of funding sources into one funding formula that will account for school districts’ needs. The proposal reflects a report issued from the bipartisan Education Funding Advisory Committee that was created last year to study the way schools are funded – or, more accurately, underfunded – and make recommendations for fixing the system.

The current funding formula, unchanged since 1997, only distributes 44 cents for every $1 invested in education on the basis of district need. The other 56 cents goes to schools through archaic and complicated grants, not based on need.

Under our proposed 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 that accounts for a local district’s “ability to pay.” A single formula provides a simple, straight-forward and equitable means to distribute education funds.

When we introduced the proposal, I acknowledged that it was a dramatic departure from the status quo, and because of that, we wanted people to critique the bill. So I decided to seek-out criticism.

During a two-week break, I traveled to Chicago, the suburbs, Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois and even the small town of Niantic to meet with educators, parents and other lawmakers to gather input. The feedback was positive and many of the suggestions offered will lead to improvements to the proposal.

As I have said many times, reforming how we fund public education in Illinois won’t be easy as we can always find an excuse not to act. But the momentum for change is building, and the support for our efforts has been widespread.

I join Dr. Poshard in urging everyone to set aside partisan or regional differences and embrace this historic opportunity to build a better future for our children.

You can find more updates about the proposal on my website.


Senator Andy Manar
48th District – Illinois

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