Letters to the Editor

Letter: Fair approach to school funding needed

State Rep. Tony McCombie
State Rep. Tony McCombie

School funding reform affects all Illinois residents whether you have children in the public school system or not. The Illinois Constitution mandates that the state government provide the majority of the funding required to educate our public school students. The state has previously failed and continues to fall short of this constitutional mandate. This disregard of our constitutional duty fails our students and pushes the burden on to you, which has increased our property taxes to some of the highest in the nation.

The budget passed earlier this month has left many unanswered questions and concerns in regards to education funding. The budget passed has increased funding for K-12 education. However, the budget states that schools must be paid by using a new funding formula (Evidence Based Funding Model). This means schools cannot receive their funding until the funding formula is addressed in a separate bill (SB1), which is being held in the Senate and not yet released for action.

The evidence based model is designed to treat all school districts in the state in a fair and equitable manner, taking in consideration 27 different adequacy points. It provides that the school districts most in need will receive a larger share of the state’s education funds. Senate Bill 1 (SB1) contains the new funding formula, but the bill also includes language giving the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Pensions an additional $418 million. We have been called to Springfield for a special session on Wednesday and if SB1 is signed into law as written, the state will send 64 percent of the increased education funding to CPS, which only has 19 percent of the Illinois students attending public schools. The other 851 Illinois school districts would be left with the remaining 36 percent of the additional funding.

Simply, it is not fair to give CPS more than its fair share at the expense of our school districts and others around the state which are also struggling financially.

I remain focused to adopt a fair approach so that all our school districts get the critical resources they need to educate our children. Instead of supporting SB1, I support the language in similar bills (HB4069/SB1124) which also contains the new funding formula as SB1, but does NOT include the CPS system pension bailout of $418 million a year.

By amending SB1 and implementing similar provisions in HB4069/SB1124, the students residing in our legislative district will see $4.4 million more in additional education funding. This is money that our school districts desperately need in order to provide the best education to our students.

I am asking you to help me by contacting your local superintendents and school board members and ask them to advocate for a funding formula that does not include a CPS pension bailout and that will put more money into our local school districts and put our children first.

Loading more