State Democratic leadership is looking to re-tool the way Illinois funds its public schools and suburban Chicago politicians on both sides of the aisle are afraid their schools will lose out.
Senate President John Cullerton (D, Chicago) in a Speech before the City Club of Chicago said the unfair school funding formula is the defining crisis for a generation of Illinoisans.
Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he’d entertain a funding makeover as long as schools that are well-funded from higher-income areas didn’t have their funding cut.
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Collar-county representatives are concerned that reforming the k-12 education funding formula as a bargaining chip in a grand budget compromise will mean less funding for their schools.
State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit is concerned. “There should be no losers. We’re talking about our future generation,” the Aurora Democrat said.
“It’s about being efficient and delivering the services to where they need to be,” said Naperville Republican Grant Wehrli.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool said the current funding formula discriminates against his students in a radical way. He said since Chicago provides for 20 percent of the state’s income taxes, then CPS should receive the same percent in school funding.
Illinois spent more than $12,000 per public school student in 2014. Sixty-six percent of that funding came from local property taxes, the second highest rate in the nation.
Illinois ranks last in the country in general state funding. This means schools in higher-poverty areas often end up with less money for their school districts.