Educational Funding Legislation

Overall funding and mandated courses for Illinois students could soon change if two new state senate proposals are approved.

State senator, Andy Manar (D), has proposed a new formula to radically revamp how the state funds education, based on a district’s need. He says the current formula is based too much on grants and isn’t equal.

“Because we’re still pumping money out the same way we were 17 years ago, that actually doesn’t even match the purpose of state aid in the first place. It’s doesn’t make it better,” said Manar.

His plan is opposed by suburban republicans, including Naperville senator Mike Connelly, who are concerned our districts would lose money based on the new formula.

District 203 superintendent, Dan Bridges, says it would have a major impact on their schools.

“[It would be] a reduction of about $9.5 million in state aid for District 203, and that’s a significant impact,” said Bridges. “We are a district that is heavily reliant on property taxes to fund our programs. So to lose any more state funding is something that would be very difficult for us.”

Manar added an amendment to the bill, capping the amount of money a district could lose at $1,000 per student. He also included funds for early childhood programs, special education, and transportation.

One amendment removed was a proposal allowing districts to opt out of certain state mandated courses, because fellow senators thought that belonged in a separate bill.

That plan adds classes to the current list schools can petition to be exempt from, including Drivers Education, Women’s History, daily Physical Education, Consumer Education, and U.S. History.

Aimed at helping school districts struggling financially, the bill could potentially save districts money, because they could choose not to offer expensive courses they can’t afford.

Officials at the Illinois Association of School Administrators support the change. The bill now goes to the house.

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