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Barickman: Historic school funding reform agreement finally clears General Assembly

Springfield – A historic bipartisan agreement to replace the state's broken school funding formula with a more fair and equitable evidence-based model has now passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly, according to State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington).

"My goal has always been to put together a school funding reform measure that fairly and equitably funds all schools," said Senator Barickman. "The Governor’s signature is now the only remaining step to making that happen and replacing our state's antiquated system for funding schools."

The new agreement utilizes an evidence-based model to distribute funding to schools, a requirement of the recently passed budget. If signed into law as anticipated, schools will soon begin receiving their state funding.

Senator Barickman was the first legislator to introduce evidence-based school funding legislation back in the spring of 2015. The legislation was an attempt to fix the state's woefully outdated funding mechanism with a system that sends dollars to where they are needed most, and where the funding has the best chance of ensuring the success of students. Barickman’s legislation provided an alternative to competing bills that preserved the status quo of taking funding away from some schools and redistributing it to others.

Senate Bill 1947 contains an agreed-to evidence-based model for determining how much funding each individual school district needs to adequately educate students, and it then distributes the money based on that data.

“The evidence based model is a strategic approach to school funding that links best practices and data to distribute funds,” said Senator Barickman. “This will provide a transparency to school funding that Illinois has never had, so that lawmakers and parents can see how dollars being spent, and will allow taxpayers to have confidence that they aren’t being asked to contribute more money to a broken system. Plus, this is a scalable and realistic plan that works regardless of budget decisions made by political leaders, and it removes the devastating effect that proration had on so many districts.”

The legislation also contains meaningful mandate relief for school districts, helping them to reduce costs and put more dollars into in-classroom-learning. In addition, it also creates a mechanism to provide property tax relief to struggling families as well as a new program to offer parents more choices in determining where to send their children for the best possible education.

"We finally have an agreement that will offer significant help to all schools, all students, and all families in Illinois," said Senator Barickman. "As soon as the Governor signs this into law our schools can focus on educating our children instead of worrying about how long they can stay open."

 
 Senator Barickman speaks on behalf of Senate Bill 1947 during debate on the legislation.

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