Area educators support school funding reform bill - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Area educators support school funding reform bill

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WSIL -- Both the Illinois House and Senate passed a bill to change how Illinois pays for K-through-12 schools, but the bill hasn't been sent to the governor yet.

The bill, Senate Bill 1, has a legislative hold on it, which stops it from going to the governor's desk, for the time being.

While Gov. Bruce Rauner promised to veto the bill, superintendents in Southern Illinois hope it becomes law.

"At this moment, SB1 is the only thing on the table and the only thing that's been passed by the legislators, so to me it's needed," said Harrisburg CUSD #3 superintendent Mike Gauch.

The new formula would provide state funding based on each district's needs and the amount of local tax it collects.

Each district would get a base amount from the state, but poorer districts would also get extra.

Regional superintendent, Matt Donkin, calls that good for Southern Illinois.

"Our districts do well in this part of the state with this funding model," said Donkin.

But opponents describe SB1 as a bailout for Chicago's struggling school system, at the expense ove everyone else.

They say Chicago could receive hundreds of millions, despite years of mismanagement.

Donkin called those accusations pure politics.

"Like a lot of things in Illinois, people make it a political issue, try to make it upstate, downstate, Chicago vs. everybody else," said Donkin. "There are aspects of this plan that do address different funding with Chicago, but it deals with that funding across the state."

Gauch said if lawmakers don't pass a budget by August, districts like his will have a difficult choice to make.

"Then we would be looking at the possibility of shutting down, at that point," said Gauch. "It does not need to get to that point. It does not."

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