Published: Mon, August 14, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Wehrli argues school funding should fix problems, not pay for pet projects

Wehrli argues school funding should fix problems, not pay for pet projects

The Senate voted 38-19 to override significant changes the first-term governor made to the landmark legislation.

71 members of the House (a three-fifths majority) must also vote to override - which may prove to be more hard, as just 60 voted for SB 1 the first time - or the legislation dies without a contingency plan in place. "Let the kids go to school and the legislators take the fight back to the state capitol, but what they shouldn't do is use the kids as pawns if they can't figure out between themselves how to fund education".

Schools are set to start next week without knowing whether they will receive state money, or how much.

Both parties agree that reforms are needed, and the state budget passed in July requires an "evidence-based formula" to distribute education funds. Decatur school leaders have said the district's reserves should hold out until mid-November, and the district leaders would consider borrowing money after that.

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SB 1 is a measure to move IL to an "evidence-based model" of education funding, which would take into account each district's individual needs, as well as its local revenue sources, when appropriating state aid - prioritizing districts that are furthest from being fully-funded.

The Democratic-controlled legislature, which passed the funding formula bill in May without a veto-proof majority, is scheduled to meet next week.

Rauner has said his version of the legislation is more fair and gives more money to 97 percent of schools across the state than the original bill would.

A fiscal 2018 budget unveiled on Friday by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) depends on almost $570 million in new money from the state and city that may not materialize or has not been identified.

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"Every district in IL is facing unnecessary - and unconscionable - uncertainty about how much funding they will receive from the State, thanks to Governor Rauner's veto of a historical education funding reform bill", said CPS CEO Forrest Claypool in a statement.

A lone Republican, state Sen. Andy Manar, the Bunker Hill Democrat who sponsored Senate Bill 1, called on Rauner to reach a compromise. Instead, he said the plan would hurt school districts throughout the state.

Two hours before the Senate action to override Rauner, the governor implored lawmakers to embrace his changes and recognize "true fairness and equity".

Democrats are criticizing Rauner's goal of switching from per-district to per-pupil funding, arguing it would have dire consequences for city schools, many of which have been hard hit by dwindling enrollments. It will be updated.

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