Superintendents show support for new school funding formula

By Kelsey Gibbs |

Published 05/08 2014 05:42PM

Updated 05/08 2014 06:07PM

ILLINOIS -- A group of Illinois' superintendents is voicing its support for a new school funding formula. Help could be on the way to the majority of Illinois' schools. Most districts downstate would see a big increase in funding under a new proposal. WCIA-3's Kelsey Gibbs keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

Educators say the current formula just isn't working to give them the funding they need, but this new proposal could be the key to getting them back on track.

"This type of increase would mean a lot to our funding."

Illinois' school districts have been making financial sacrifices.

"Our school board was very prudent this year and made a lot of deep cuts so that we could have a balanced budget and operate fiscally responsibly."

Close to twenty superintendents showed up at the Statehouse. They wanted lawmakers to know just how difficult it's getting to make ends meet. This group supports a Senate proposal to change the funding formula.

"It would mean about a 5.7% increase for us which would equate to a little over $2.5 million increase in funding."

But, the proposal also has opposition.

"But, the core issue is a disproportionate amount of money going to Chicago which has been going on for years."

State Senator Matt Murphy (R) says the bill does little to help schools in Chicago.

"The suburbs are going to get creamed. Chicago is going to continue to get a disproportionate share and the suburbs will be pivoted against downstate."

Pana's superintendent says he understands, but downstate districts usually get the short end of the stick.

"While I certainly don't want to wish ill on any other district, I would say, 'Welcome to my world.'"

If a bill isn't passed, the state will have to look at other ways of bringing in revenue.

"The property tax is what we're kind of talking about today with the redistribution. It takes that off the table. It has to be able to realize some funding increase by this more equitable distribution across our state."

Currently, only 44% of state education spending is balanced against a local district's ability to pay.

Not all downstate schools would get more help if the bill passes. Monticello Schools Superintendent Vic Zimmerman says there are always winners and losers when state funding changes.

He says his district has a lot to lose if the bill passes, about $750,000. That's because there aren't as many poverty-level students there and property values are fairly high.

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