How the state funds public schools could be a hot topic this week with lawmakers back in Springfield.

While acknowledging the school funding formula needs to be reworked, Gov. Bruce Rauner said lawmakers should instead focus on fully funding schools for the coming fiscal year.

John Patterson, a spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton, said that doesn’t make sense.  “Why would you put more money into a program that almost everyone admits is flawed?” 

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Patterson said even if that were to happen, schools in Chicago, Naperville and East St. Louis would be the biggest losers.

“You have to really try to come up with a bad formula that makes those three communities losers in a school funding situation,” Patterson said.

Democrats are pushing for a measure they say reforms the funding formula to give more money to poorer districts. State Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, said don’t call it reform.

“How about we just call it the ‘bail out Chicago Public Schools’ bill,’ ” Oberweis said.

State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, said he’s an accountant and thinks the plan pushed by Democrats is convoluted.

“But if this formula is so complex that I have a hard time understanding it, something’s wrong, and the public doesn’t understand it and there are winners and losers,” McCarter said.

McCarter said he worries the formula could be tweaked in the future to turn winners into losers.

The state has a May 31 deadline to pass funding for schools with simple majorities. The next fiscal year begins July 1.


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