Illinois school funding reform at a critical juncture

Karen Garibay-MulattieriLatino Policy Forum

Jul 24, 2017

Guest view

After two years, six days, and 16 hours, Illinois finally passed a budget earlier this month.  Illinois school funding however, is still pending with the approaching school year looming. With the help of Republicans who demonstrated courage in breaking ranks with the Governor, the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives voted to override Rauner’s veto to provide citizens with a budget. This new budget has increased funding for early childhood and services to families, which has already gone into effect. Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza and state college presidents have gone on record as saying the passage of the state budget was critical to the ability of the state to uphold its financial obligations and to preserve our institutes of higher education. With early childhood education and post-secondary funding accounted for, the missing piece is K-12.

While the budget heralds new hope for the people of Illinois, there is much that remains to be done by our elected leaders to adequately and equitably fund K-12 public schools. At present, schools cannot receive any of the appropriations outlined in the new budget without the school funding reform.

Latino Policy Forum is a member of Fix the Formula Illinois, a campaign including more than 200 school superintendents and teachers, student-advocates, community and faith-based organizations, that supports Senate Bill 1. The proposed legislation passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives and would change the way in which state funds are allocated. Illinois ranks last in the nation for providing equitable resources to schools most in need. Senate Bill 1 introduces a new evidence-based model which distributes financial resources based on the evidence of what works in educating a child, characteristics of students enrolled in schools, and the ability of the local community to provide adequate resources for education. While no district loses funding, the evidence-based model in Senate Bill 1 closes the gap between rich and poor communities and addresses the needs of low-income students residing in Chicago, suburban districts, and downstate.

The future of the bill lies with the Governor once the bill reaches his desk. School districts around Illinois are facing crisis planning and the possibility of not opening their doors. Not resolving Illinois school funding inequities risks the education of children for generations to come, especially our most vulnerable populations. If you have concerns, please call the Governor’s Office at 312-814-2121 to urge him to sign Senate Bill 1 into law.

The Forum urges you to contact Governor Rauner and not let school equity fall by the wayside.

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