Wait Continues For Schools' Fate Under Proposed New Formula

Apr 21, 2014

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, introduces his Senate Bill 16, which would overhaul how Illinois determines state funding of schools.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Illinois lawmakers are considering a major change to the way local schools get money from the state. But information about how individual school districts would fare in the new system won't be ready until just before the end of the spring legislative session.

Illinois' schools are primarily funded by local property taxes, which means that there's a big disparity in how much money is spent on a student depending on her zip code.

The state gives money to wealthy and poor districts alike.

Senate Democrats are advancing a measure that would instead divvy up state funding based mostly on a school's need. The legislation is widely backed by education advocates, including the State Board of Education.

But board spokesman Matt Vanover says it'll still be awhile -- likely mid-May -- before the board can determine how that new formula would actually work.

"We are essentially creating a funding formula form scratch," vanover says. The wait could hurt the effort; legislators won't be apt to vote for proposal without first knowing how it would affect districts they represent.

Or it could help, leaving less time for schools that would lose state funding to actively protest it.

The measure's sponsor, Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, says everyone should be focused on equal funding of Illinois' schools.