School funding: Frequently asked questions - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

School funding: Frequently asked questions

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WSIL -- Illinois residents still have a lot of questions regarding K-12 school funding. Here are the answers to some of the more frequently asked questions:

1. "Now that the budget has been enacted, why is school funding still in limbo?"

Du Quoin school superintendent Greg Kelly says it's because of what the budget calls for.

"The bills that were passed provide money for education, it just doesn't provide the mechanism on how it's to be distributed. Within the language of the budget bills, it states education funding will be distributed through an evidence-based funding model," said Kelly.

2. "Haven't lawmakers already passed an evidence-based funding model?"

Yes, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1 in May. It provides more funding to schools, with districts in poorer areas getting a larger share of new funding to close the funding gap. But lawmakers haven't sent it to the governor, who has promised to veto it.

3. "Why does Governor Rauner want to veto SB1?"

It's mainly because of the hundreds of millions of extra dollars it provides to Chicago Public Schools. The governor calls it a bailout. But supporters of SB1 say the extra money going to Chicago is to help it cover its teacher pensions. Right now, it's the only district in the state responsible for picking up the entire tab, which many people call unfair.

4. "Is there an alternative to SB1?"

Yes, Republicans put forward their own plan, SB1124 SFA 3, which has been endorsed by Governor Rauner. They say their plan provides more money to schools and deals with the Chicago pension issue in separate legislation. But critics call their numbers over-inflated.

5. "What happens now?"

Without a funding formula plan in place money won't be distributed to schools, which means some may not open next month. Others may only be able to remain open for a few weeks. 

But educators remain hopeful that lawmakers will work out their differences.

"There's not a lot of time, but I've seen things happen in a day and I've seen it takes two years to happen. So, if there's a willingness to work together, things can get done," said Kelly.

6. "Where can I learn more about the two funding plans that have been presented?"

To learn more about SB1, you can visit the website for Funding Illinois' Future, a coalition of more than 200 school districts, superintendents and community leaders who support the bill. It features a lot of resources, blog posts and presentations.

To learn more about SB1124 SFA 3, you can also visit the Senate Republican caucus website. It features several videos and charts outlining how the plan works. 

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