Southern Illinois superintendents urge lawmakers to adopt fundin - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Southern Illinois superintendents urge lawmakers to adopt funding formula

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WSIL -- Standing shoulder to shoulder at the state capitol on Wednesday, a handful of superintendents from districts across southern Illinois warned lawmakers of the cataclysmic crisis the state could be barreling toward, if a new school funding formula is not adopted.

"In my district we have enough money to make it through September, but we will not make it through October without any general state aid," said Chuck Lane, superintendent of Centralia High School District #200.

General state aid is money the state sends to schools to pay teacher and staff salaries. The payments are distributed twice a month.

Cobden superintendent Edwin Shumate said schools have not received those payments this month.

"We have missed two checks for general state aid and our third check is now in jeopardy," said Shumate.

While the budget lawmakers implemented, over the objections of Gov. Bruce Rauner, sets aside almost $7 billion for K-12 education, schools won't receive a nickel until the state adopts a new evidence-based funding formula.

Earlier this month, Rauner vetoed part of a funding formula plan lawmakers passed known as SB1. Rauner called it a pension bailout for Chicago Public Schools, at the expense of schools downstate.

The Senate overrode the governor's veto, but an override vote has yet to be brought up in the House, as the top four legislative leaders negotiate behind closed doors.

"I'm wearing purple today for bipartisan support, hoping our legislative leaders can come to a compromise," said Jennifer Garrison, superintendent of Sandoval schools.

As those negotiations drag out, the superintendents voiced their support for SB1. 

Cairo superintendent Andrea Avers said SB1 could solve their problems right now. 

"I support SB1 because it provides equity for all of our children and that's what we need in our state," said Avers. "SB1 is the only legislation that addresses all children regardless of zip code."

As for Rauner's criticism of SB1, they said they did not have a problem with the state picking up the tab for Chicago Public School's pensions.

"It's a not a secret that the State of Illinois pays almost $5 billion for downstate pensions," said Lane. "Allowing Chicago's pensions to be included in that, to us, makes sense. It's fair."

House Speaker Mike Madigan originally set Wednesday as the day lawmakers were to vote to override the governor's veto, but he canceled session on Tuesday night. 

Both sides reported making progress in negotiations, but said they needed more time. 

Talks will resume on Thursday in Chicago.

Madigan said if lawmakers don't reach an agreement on a funding formula by the end of the week, then the House will move forward with a vote to override Rauner's veto on SB1 next week. 
 

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