Manar says current system “isn’t working”

SPRINGFIELD – After months of discussion, which included eight hearings across the state, expert testimony and input from stakeholders, the Senate Education Funding Advisory Committee released its recommendations to improve how Illinois distributes funds for public education.

The report, released Friday, recommends streamlining the state’s school funding formula to provide greater equity among districts. That would mean combining the state’s current funding sources, which each have their own rules, regulations and paperwork, into one funding formula that would account for school districts’ funding needs.

“The way we fund public education in Illinois is currently very complex, but one piece of it is very simple: It isn’t working,” said State Senator Andy Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill. “The disparity between school districts that have resources and those that don’t is only getting worse, meaning too many children are being denied an equal opportunity for a quality public education.” 

The majority of state school funding is provided through General State Aid, which is distributed based on school districts’ needs. But schools also receive separate funding through grants to programs, including special education and transportation, which are not distributed based on need.  

“The committee focused on ‘how’ the state gets funding to schools and left the ‘how much’ to the larger budget debate that will take place this spring,” Manar said.

Senator Manar led the effort last spring to create the Senate Advisory Committee on Education Funding (SR0431). The committee was tasked with reviewing the current public education funding distribution system and submitting recommendations for improvement and increased equity to the full General Assembly by Feb. 1, 2014.

Since 2009, Illinois has cut $861 million from the total K-12 education budget. In the current fiscal year, FY2014, the state only allocated 89 percent of the funds needed to meet the minimum required foundation level. What payments the state does make are unpredictable and often months late in coming, with the current backlog of bills owed to school districts exceeding $630 million. 

Click below for more information on Friday's Senate report:

Education Funding Advisory Committee Report
Analysis of Education Funding Advisory Committee Report
Current School Funding System vs Proposed Funding System
Disparity by District

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