Southern Illinois superintendent hopeful about new school fundin - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Southern Illinois superintendent hopeful about new school funding proposal

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WSIL -- Southern Illinois superintendents say a new school funding plan released this week could be very beneficial to the region.

A bi-partisan group of lawmakers, known as Illinois School Funding Reform Commission, released a report Wednesday suggesting ways to make school funding more equitable.

The framework recommends state funding focus on student needs rather than the current system in which every district receives the same base level of funding per student. It means schools in low income, poverty stricken areas would see more money.

Harrisburg High School Superintendent Mike Gauch has long called for a change in the way Illinois schools get their money from the state. He said his district, as well as any high poverty area in southern Illinois, always draw the short straw.

"Kids in poverty need more resources to meet levels that we need to meet, students of color," Gauch said.

Gauch likes new school funding proposals recently proposed, because they aim to close the gap between low and high poverty districts. He said the new plan includes two key items that could benefit southern Illinois.

First, it would create adequacy targets for each district when it comes to per-pupil spending. Schools unable to spend an adequate amount of money per student, would see more state funding.

"We spend a little over $9,000 a kid for educating our children. There are schools in the state who spend three times that," Gauch said.

The advisory board's framework would funnel more money to non-wealthy school districts which need higher property taxes to generate funds, versus wealthier school districts with lower property taxes.

Gauch calls these ideas a win-win for southern Illinois, but will hold his breath until lawmakers draft an actual bill, with details.

"I think this is one of those things that, is it perfect? No. But is is something that is needed and is good? Without a doubt. I'm a supporter," Gauch said.

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