Senate Bill Proposes More Funding for Downstate Schools

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By Fanna Haile-Selassie
By Randy Livingston

FRANKLIN CO. -- There is a piece a legislation in Springfield that could increase funding for many downstate schools. Senate Bill 16 would change how the state divides general state aid, making sure poorer districts get the most funding. 

It would mean a funding increase for roughly 70 percent of area districts. For Meridian, that means an extra $1.3 million, and roughly $2.4 million for Marion. But the new bill would also mean a loss of $88,000 for Giant City School district, and roughly $59,000 for Goreville.
 
For Ewing-Northern Grade School it means an extra $1,200 per student.
 
"A little bit of relief and stability would be welcomed within our district. It's been many years of not really knowing exactly what our funding is going to be," says Superintendent Kristin Ing,
 
She says funding would essentially reinstate all the money that's been cut in the previous years. But more importantly, she says it would give her students an education that rivals any city in the state.
 
"Because then we would all be fair and we would all be equal, and our kids would all get approximately the same," explains Ing.
 
David Luechtefeld, who sits on the Senate Education Committee, says he's not sure the bill has much chance of passage, and he's not sure yet where he stands on the measure.
 
"I like some of the things in the bill. I like the direction we're headed by putting more of it into the state aid formula, but I simply have to take a longer look at the numbers before I can vote yes or no."
 
Benton Grade School Superintendent Jay Goble says this bill would bring state education funding back to what it was originally intended to be. His school would see an extra $1,000 per student.
 
"I think it's fair because, philosophically, that's the reason that general state aid is there. That's the reason it was created, is to help those students in districts where there's more poverty, there's less local tax base," explains Goble.
 
Senator Luechtefeld voted present on Wednesday when the bill moved out of the education committee. Several downstate administrators were in Springfield Thursday to lobby for the bill.
 
If you would like to see how your school district would be affected, click HERE
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