Legislation to eliminate restrictions on school districts contracting with third parties would free up millions of dollars to invest back in the classroom, according to Illinois’ governor.
Governor Bruce Rauner said Friday the goal of companion bills in the House and Senate is to allow for flexibility and get more funds into the the classroom by giving school districts the ability to contract with third parties.
Republican State Senator Jason Barickman said the legislation would allow local districts to make the best choices on where to spend limited resources on various services.
“Not instructional services,” Barickman said. “We’re talking about janitors. We’re talking about security, busses and maintenance.”   In a statement Democratic Senator Don Harmon said school districts may contract with third-party providers already, but the vendors need to demonstrate they will achieve savings through better business practices, and “not just by cutting the bus drivers’ wages or taking health insurance away from the lunch ladies.”

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Meanwhile local school districts should be given flexibility when it comes to requirement for drivers and physical education as a way to help save resources and drive dollars back into classrooms, according to Republican Representative Ron Sandack.
Sandack said relaxing the mandates would allow districts and teachers “to focus more on core curriculum, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum and have, frankly, that be the driver -- pun intended -- of educational opportunities going forward.”
Governor Rauner said in a news release the mandate relief and third party contracting could save public schools in the state $200 million.
A spokesman for Speaker Michael Madigan said they hadn't seen the bills or the the math but House Democrats would be happy to consider any proposal that saves money for Illinois taxpayers as long as those measures do not drive down standards of living for middle class families.

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