State Board of Ed releases numbers for flawed school funding plan

Downstate schools could lose $120 million per year under a school funding formula currently being debated at the state Capitol, according to data released by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

“This is exactly what many in the education community had been fearing, a plan to funnel downstate school money into the bankrupt Chicago school system,” said State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington). “This legislation would represent a major step backward in the quest to fix our current school funding formula.”

According to the data from ISBE, Senate Bill 231 would pull nearly $120 million in funding from downstate schools, $121 million from collar county schools, and $102 million from North Cook County schools, all to redirect more than $352 million to the Chicago Public School District (CPS).

Some examples of the negative impact on individual districts includes losses of $2.7 million for Bloomington, $9.8 million for McLean Unit #5, $885,000 for Eureka, $743,000 for El Paso-Gridley, and $259,000 for Pontiac Township High School.

“We all know the current funding formula is broken, but there is no doubt about it, SB231 in its current form is much worse,” said Senator Barickman.

The sponsor of SB231, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), has pushed to add $520 million in additional funding for a hold-harmless provision and adequacy grants, but has yet to provide any sort of a funding source to pay for it. If funded, the hold harmless provision would be phased out over four years.

“Even if he could find half a billion dollars, after a just a few years we would be right back to this disastrous formula and massive losses for downstate schools,” said Senator Barickman. “A real solution will require that everyone is at the table, including the education community, parents, lawmakers from both parties, and the Governor’s administration.”

Senator Barickman has advocated for continued work to develop a new formula, and has been working with schools and the education community on an evidence-based formula. In the meantime, he is pushing to fully fund schools for the first time in seven years. Senator Manar and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) have resisted that idea, with Cullerton suggesting that all K-12 funding be held up until Manar’s formula is passed into law.

“Downstate schools shouldn’t be paying for a CPS bailout, and their funding shouldn’t be held hostage by the process,” said Senator Barickman. “We all need to keep working on a new formula, but we can give our districts some certainty by fully funding the K-12 system, ensuring schools will be able to open on time in the fall.”

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